Reid to face Houdet at NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters
PUBLISHED: 09:21 03 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:21 03 December 2016
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Paralympic champion meets French rival in semi-finals
Paralympic champion Gordon Reid will face Stephane Houdet in the semi-finals of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters today as he continues his bid to end the year as world number one.
World number two Houdet came through a three-set match with Alfie Hewett to secure his spot in the last against Reid, who beat Maiek Scheffers for his third successive victory in the round-robin stage.
The first matches of day three saw Korea’s world number six Kyu-Seung Kim and GB’s world number 11 Antony Cotterill both looking to get their first win at the Masters in the quads.
The pair had never played one another previously and Kim took a tight first set 7-5, then added the second by a 6-3 margin to set up a meeting with defending champion David Wagner (USA).
Cotterill said: “It has been a great experience and a privilege to play some of the best players in the world. It was tough. I didn’t serve too well and I missed too many returns.”
Eight-time champion Wagner had secured his semi-final spot on Thursday, leaving Israelis Itay Erenlib and Shraga Weinberg, world number five and 10 respectively, to do battle.
Former world number one Weinberg, making his Masters debut this year, had a 7-2 match advantage over his fellow countryman and had won their last match at the Israel Open in April.
But it was Erenlib who was quick to take the first set 6-2 and he maintained momentum to win the second 6-0 and will face GB’s world number four Andy Lapthorne in their semi-final today.
Erenlib said: “I prepared really well for this match. He is a good friend and we are doubles partners. I can win against Lapthorne if I play like I did today.”
Houdet and Hewett were next on court and both needed to win their match to secure a semi-final place.
A defeat for the 46-year-old Frenchman, followed by a win in the mid-afternoon for Reid would have greatly boosted the Scot’s chances of being crowned end of year world number one, while Hewett was opening to reach the final stages of his first Masters.
World number seven Hewett showed few nerves in the opening set, leading 3-0 before being pulled back by the Frenchman to 4-4.
But Hewett kept his cool to take the first set 6-4 and the Paralympic singles silver medalist also had his chances to take the second set, but the momentum gradually went with the Frenchman who took it 6-4, then closed out victory 6-2 in the third.
Houdet said: “Alfie is the future. No doubt. He lost this match, I didn’t really win it and that’s an issue for me.
“I knew I just had to keep on fighting and I knew until the last point I still had a chance. Alfie was playing amazingly. It was only in the third set that he wasn’t playing so aggressively. It was difficult against Alfie.”
A disappointed Hewett added: “6-4 and 2-0 up in the second it was in my hands and that’s what was so soul destroying. Credit to Houdet. He stepped up his game and was more accurate with his serve and varied it.
“It was all going to plan at the start but by the third I wasn’t able to throw my serve and vary my slice as much. He just kept picking me off, hitting his shots really well.”
Defending champion Joachim Gerard (Belgium) had already gone through to the last four, while Nicolas Peifer (France) had lost his first two matches and was looking for a consolation victory.
But Gerard was in fine form, winning 6-2, 6-1, and said: “I didn’t play too well and was a little disappointed with my first serve. I don’t know if I’m the one to beat (at the Masters) but I’m feeling great.”
Reid then came on court, buoyed by his win over Sweden’s Stefan Olsson, and stormed through the first set 6-1.
Scheffers tried to find his rhythm in the second set, but Reid kept pushing and closed out the match 6-2, saying: “I’m looking forward to playing Stephane. I’ve started this week well, I played better yesterday and I’ve continued that form. I’m striking the ball well, feel relaxed and confident.
“Stephane is an intelligent player with a lot of experience. He’s perhaps not as quick but he uses the court very well. It will be a tough match.”
Argentina’s world number four Gustavo Fernandez needed to beat Olsson to have a chance of reaching the semi-finals, but fell to a 6-2, 6-3 defeat.
Olsson said: “I feel very relieved. Yesterday (against Reid) I played one of my worst matches ever and today I’ve played well.
“I’m happy to have got a win here and to have played more aggressively. I wanted to have a good match in my group and I’ve done that.”
The late afternoon action in East London served up the women’s battle for the three remaining semi-final places, as only Japan’s world number three Yui Kamiji could relax a little, having beaten world number one and defending champion Jiske Griffioen a day earlier.
Kamiji had been scheduled to play world number six Sabine Ellerbrock, but the German withdrew before her match due to illness.
Everything was on the line for Griffioen and GB’s world number eight Lucy Shuker, though, as both knew only a win would suffice for a place in the semi-finals.
The statistics favoured the defending champion, with only one career loss to tenacious right-hander Shuker, and Griffioen took the first set 6-2.
Shuker fought back to a 2-0 lead in the second, but the reigning Paralympic champion kept her composure to move 5-4 up.
The Brit kept fighting, but finally a return went wide and Griffioen closed the match 7-5 to keep her title hopes alive and said: “I’m really pleased. She took the lead when I let her back in the match and I’d chances to serve out the match but kind of messed up. I’m pleased to pull this one out.”
Shuker added: “Jiske is world number one for a reason, she’s a great player. I knew I had to take my game to her but it’s all about finding those little margins.”
The final match of the day in the women’s draw saw the battle continue for a place in the semi-finals with an all-Dutch clash as world number two Aniek van Koot faced world number four Marjolein Buis.
Buis looked to be in charge of the first set, powering to a 5-1 lead, but Van Koot then found her rhythm and won the next three games, before Buis took the set 6-4 and Van Koot then retired due to injury.
Semi-finals, men: G Reid v S Houdet; J Gerard v S Olsson; women: D De Groot v J Griffioen; Y Kamiji v M Buis; quads: D Wagner v KS Kim; A Lapthorne v I Erenlib.
* Tickets for the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters are available from as little as £1. For details visit wheelchairtennismasters.com.