French Open 2021: Alfie Hewett claims third singles crown as Brits finish with three titles
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Alfie Hewett became a three-time French Open men’s wheelchair singles champion and a five-time Grand Slam singles winner on Monday after claiming a high-quality final against Japan’s world No.1 Shingo Kunieda 6-3, 6-4 at Roland Garros.
Players on the LTA’s Wheelchair Performance Pathway end the French Open having won three of the six titles available after Jordanne Whiley and Japan’s Yui Kamiji finished runners-up in the women’s doubles final, the last of four finals involving Brits.
Defending champion Hewett began his final by claiming the first service break for a 3-1 lead and refused to let Kunieda back into the set, slotting a forehand winner past the seven-time champion to take the opener after 41 minutes.
The world No.3 recovered from 40-0 down on Kunieda’s serve to survive three deuces and build a 4-1 second set lead and withstood a mini-comeback from the 24-time Grand Slam singles champion to seal his latest title with an ace after an hour and 46 minutes. Hewett, who now has 16 Grand Slam singles and doubles tiles to his name, said:
“Today the quality was one of the best in finals I have played, just dealing with the conditions, dealing with the fact that it was a final. I have played four or five finals recently and have felt very nervous and tense at the beginning. I felt like I came out of the blocks really well today , and that was a big thing I was looking at doing. To obviously come out there and produce some of the tennis that I did, off the back of the semifinal (comeback) that I had, I’m really, really happy.”
“Today it was really pleasing that when it really mattered, when I was ahead, I took my chances, I kept in front, and I took my opportunities.”
Two-time champions Whiley and Kamiji also went into the women’s doubles final hoping for a third title. However, after taking Dutch top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot to a deciding match tie-break at Roland Garros 2020, last October, the 11-time Grand Slam-winning partnership of Whiley and Kamiji could not produce their best this time and De Groot and Van Koot retained the title 6-3, 6-4.
Whiley said:“We were trying some new things today and I think that maybe got in our heads a little bit. And it jst wan’st out day. But they played well, They kept us back, so it was quite difficult to attack off their ball because their were hitting quite deep and quite hard and we just made too many errors. We’re playing no ad (advantage) her on the deuce points and I find it really difficult, but it is what it is. I think we just need to learn to play those bigger points better.”
With Hewett and Reid having secured their record-breaking 11th career Grand Slam men’s doubles title on Sunday and Andy Lapthorne completing his career Grand Slam of doubles titles in the quad doubles, Hewett, Reid, Lapthorne and Whiley are now among the Brits who go on to contest the French Riviera Open Super Series tournament, which begins on Tuesday near Nice.