22 January 2019
Australian Open Preview: Reid and Shuker lead GB charge
Paralympic singles champion Gordon Reid is set to spearhead the British wheelchair tennis charge at the Australian Open this week as four GB players bid for glory.
With play beginning in Melbourne on Wednesday viewers in this hemisphere can follow all the action from 12pm midnight GMT on Tuesday.
Fresh from their exploits at the Melbourne Open, Reid, Andy Lapthorne and Lucy Shuker all get their campaigns underway, as does the returning Alfie Hewett – who is back after recharging the batteries.
Reid and Hewett attack singles draw
The wait is over for the first wheelchair tennis Grand Slam of the season, with Hewett and Reid gunning for men’s singles glory on Margaret Court Arena.
Reid, 27, is up against last year’s runner-up Stephane Houdet, with the Brit taking on the Frenchman fourth on court seven in the day’s order of play.
Reid has excellent pedigree in Melbourne, the event where he won his first Grand Slam Singles title in 2016, following it up with a doubles title in 2017.
“Stephane (Houdet) is in good form,” Reid told Sky Sports. “He’s just won the singles at the first Super Series of the year in Bendigo so he’s playing well.
“I feel happy with my tennis and where I am right now though, and I get a couple of days now to get used to the courts here and hopefully I’ll translate that good tennis into match play here.”
Elsewhere in the draw Hewett is first on court eight in Melbourne on Wednesday and takes on defending champion and world No.1 Shingo Kunieda, the player he defeated in the final of the 2018 US Open.
Hewett is seeking his third straight victory over Kunieda – who secured his fourth Melbourne Open title at the weekend – the GB player searching for his first Australian Open singles title.
Reid and Hewett, reigning Wimbledon and US Open doubles champions, are also reuniting on the same side of the net later in the week and take on Houdet and Ben Weekes in the semi-finals.
Andy Lapthorne is in quad singles action in Melbourne
Shuker and Lapthorne in action
Moving over to the women’s draw and British No.1 Lucy Shuker vies for success against defending champion Diede De Groot of the Netherlands first up in the draw.
The pair met at the Melbourne Open last week, with the Dutchwoman winning out 6-4 6-2.
“Last week when we played I had a point to go 5-2 up in the first set against her so actually it shows that I was playing some good tennis,” Shuker told Sky Sports.
“I then went on and lost the match but to have got to that point against Diede shows that my tennis is going in the right direction - she’s No 1 in the world at the moment and for a reason. She’s a tough player, she’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.
“I’ll fight to the end though and who knows, this little T4 Paraplegic might just do some damage.”
In the quads division Lapthorne goes up against David Wagner in the first of three round-robin matches, before teaming up with the American in the quads doubles final against Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson.
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