30 August 2021

Reid and Hewett eyeing Rio revenge after reaching wheelchair tennis final

The memory of silver in Rio is motivating Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett to go one better at Tokyo 2020, as they booked their place in a second straight wheelchair tennis men’s doubles Paralympic final in style.

The Brits are the dominant force in men’s doubles, having won the last seven Grand Slam titles, but missing out on gold in Brazil five years ago to Frenchmen Stéphane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer still rankles.

They will have a chance to right that wrong later this week after comfortably overcoming Japanese duo Shingo Kunieda and Takashi Sanada 6-2, 6-1 in the semi-finals at the Ariake Tennis Park, with Houdet and Peifer the men once again standing between them and Paralympic glory.

Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid impressed during their semi-final victory

“I think it [memory of Rio] is just adding desire, adding excitement, because we enjoyed Rio, we loved getting to the final there, but losing that one hurt so we don’t want to experience that again,” said Reid.

“I feel like we’ve improved so much since then and worked so much on our partnership that we’ve done everything we can to give ourselves a good chance.

“We’re really, really happy at the moment. That match [semi-final] couldn’t have gone a lot better for us. We executed our game plan and tactics really well and we didn’t let up at any point.

“We’re really pleased but we’ve done nothing yet because we came here for the gold, and we’ve still got to earn that.”

And Hewett believes their recent dominance on the circuit, and a growing understanding as a partnership over the past few years, will stand the duo in good stead in pursuit of the most precious medal.

Hewett and Reid now have a chance for revenge in the Paralympic final

“We have our own routines as individuals and we come together as a pair,” said Hewett. “We’ve been playing together now for seven, eight years, so we’re familiar with what we bring to the court, and we know when we’re feeling it – today was one of those matches.

“The gold medal match, we could turn up and it could either be great, or we might not be playing some of our best tennis but we’ve learnt over the years to deal with many different occasions and scenarios. We’ll be prepared for whatever happens on the day.

“Getting that gold medal is something that we’ve both targeted for a long while and I’ve dreamt of it, I’m sure he’s dreamt of it as well, so it’s a big ambition.”

Tuesday also saw Jordanne Whiley stay on course for a medal, as she reached the women’s singles semi-finals at a Paralympic Games for the first time by battling past her good friend, USA’s Dana Mathewson, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Jordanne Whiley was delighted to reach her first Paralympic singles semi-final and now has two shots at a medal

The Brit struggled with the intense Tokyo heat but came through and now needs just one win in her next two matches to reach the podium – starting with a semi-final against all-conquering Dutch No.1 seed Diede de Groot, winner of every Grand Slam so far this season.

“It was really emotional – it was just such an up-and-down match,” said Whiley. “I know how good Dana is and she’s one of my best friends, so it was always going to be a tricky match.

“It’s the first time I’ve played a match in the day when it’s really hot. In that second set I was really, really struggling. I was feeling a bit sick, I needed that 20 minutes between sets – I literally just sat on the floor in front of a fan trying to get my body temperature down.

“I’m really proud of myself mentally for pulling through that – that’s a really big win for me to get into the semi-finals, so obviously it means a lot. Now I’ve got two shots at a medal which is an amazing place to be.”

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