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19th January - 1st February 2015
Melbourne Park, Australia
Last updated: 27/01/2011
Andrew Lapthorne and Peter Norfolk became the first all-British pairing to win a Grand Slam wheelchair tennis doubles title on Thursday when they won the quad doubles final at the Australian Open in Melbourne, beating American defending champions Nick Taylor and David Wagner 6-3, 6-3. On a fine day for Lapthorne, who is making his Grand Slam debut this week after being offered a wild card last week, he also secured his first career victory over world No. 4 Taylor in the second of his quad singles round-robin matches earlier in the day.
"It's a great feeling to win my first Grand Slam title and to be able to do it alongside Peter and share this experience with him is fantastic," said Lapthorne after he and Norfolk gained their fourth victory over the two-Paralympic quad doubles champions in the last two years.
In November they also beat Taylor and Wagner to become quad champions at the Wheelchair Tennis Doubles Masters in Italy. Before today Taylor & Wagner had never lost a quad doubles match at the Australian or US Open.
"I'm sunburnt but happy for my first Grand Slam doubles title," added Norfolk, who is bidding for his fifth Australian quad singles title this week. "It's even more special to do it as a British pair. I'd like to say a massive thanks to the special support crowd. Andy played absolutely fantastic and I was there to back him up when needed," joked Norfolk.
The British pair only began playing together at the start of 2009 and have now beaten Taylor and Wagner on four occasions. Today they have become the first British players to win a doubles title in a wheelchair Grand Slam event in their current format.
The pair will also be gunning for Paralympic glory in London 20102 after the quad events (singles and doubles) were introduced to the Paralympic Games tennis programme in 2004.
Earlier on the second day of wheelchair tennis action at Melbourne Park Lapthorne twice went a break up in his second quad singles round robin match against Taylor before eventually taking the opening set on a tie-break. He then came from a break down to win five games in succession en route to sealing a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory.
Lapthorne plays world No. 1 Wagner in his third and final round-robin match on Friday after the American just managed to edge Norfolk 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Norfolk now faces a crucial match against Taylor as he bids to maintain his Australian Open title defence.
The top two players after the round robin phase of the competition will go through to Saturday's final. Although Norfolk lost, both Britain's maintain chances of reaching Saturday's quad singles final.
Thursday's action at Melbourne Park also brought another fine effort from Britain's representative in the women's events, Jordanne Whiley. British No 2 Whiley, who is also making her Grand Slam debut this week, partnered Australia's Daniela di Toro in their women's doubles semi-final against Dutch top seeds Esther Vergeer and Sharon Walraven, but, despite pushing the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champions, Whiley and di Toro eventually bowed out 6-3, 7-6(2).
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Image - Norfolk & Lapthorne with their trophies