23 January 2019

Battling British four miss out at Australian Open

Reigning Paralympic singles champion Gordon Reid bowed out of the Australian Open at the quarter-final stage on a difficult day for British hopes in Melbourne.

Reid played out a thrilling two hours and 38-minute contest with Stéphane Houdet, a 2018 finalist in Melbourne, before ultimately coming undone 7-6 5-7 6-2.

With the first set going all the way to a tie-break, the pair couldn’t be separated until Houdet managed to finally break the 2016 Australian Open winner and take it 10-8.

But with little separating the two players once again in the second, Reid managed to turn the screw to force a deciding set by breaking the Frenchman to wrap up the set 7-5.

However, Houdet, a four-time Paralympic medallist, upped the momentum in the third, breaking Reid in the first game before going on to take the third 6-2.

Fellow Brit Alfie Hewett lost 6-1 6-4 against Japan’s Shingo Kunieda.

The current US Open champion had never got past the quarter-final stage in Melbourne and will have to wait another year for a chance at glory as reigning champion Kunieda remained on course to secure a tenth Australian Open singles crown.

Meanwhile, in the quad wheelchair singles, three-time Paralympic medallist Andy Lapthorne lost his first group match 6-1 4-6 6-4 to world number two David Wagner.

Wagner eased to the opening set, but testament to Lapthorne’s endeavour managed to break the triple Paralympic doubles champion in the second to force a decider.

But an inch-perfect display from Wagner turned the game on its head in the third to take a 4-2 lead and he never relinquished his position to make the perfect start to his campaign.

Elsewhere, double Paralympic bronze medallist Lucy Shuker missed out on securing a spot at the Australian Open semi-finals for a third time with a straight set defeat to Diedre de Groot.

The 22-year-old Dutchwomen, ranked number one in the world, proved too strong for the Brit and clinched a 6-0 6-0 victory.

Doubles hopes

Medal hopes are still alive in Melbourne with Lapthorne, Hewett, Reid and Shuker all involved in tomorrow’s doubles competition.

First Lapthorne has the chance to seal a sixth Australian Open doubles title as he takes on home favourites Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson alongside Wagner on the famous Margaret Court Arena.

Reid and Hewett face a men’s wheelchair doubles semi-final showdown against Houdet and Ben Weekes.

And Shuker pairs up with South African Kgothatso Montjane in the women’s wheelchair doubles semi-finals against Marjolein Buis and Sabine Ellerbrock.

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