Alfie Hewett’s US Open success in the Wheelchair men’s singles final leads to his 21st Grand Slam title
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Alfie Hewett became a three-time US Open men’s wheelchair singles champion on Sunday in New York after beating top seed Shingo Kunieda of Japan 7-6(2), 6-1.
Hewett, who also won the title in 2018 and 2019, needed six set points before taking the opening set with an ace, having put away a total of 26 winners.
The British No.1 hit eight winners alone in the first three games of the second set. earning a 3-0 lead with a break to love. A ninth double fault from Kunieda gave Hewett two match points, but the first was enough for Hewett to earn his first win over Kunieda in three major finals this season and claim the sixth Grand Slam singles title of his career.
Hewett subsequently replaces Kunieda as world No,1 for the second time this season.
“We’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster this year,” Hewett admitted. “Last time I was in a competition I lost to [Kunieda] and that was probably one of the most heart-breaking defeats of my career.
“So, to get back on the training court and produce a performance like that today against an absolute legend like Shingo – who has been pretty unstoppable ever since he got his Gold medal in Tokyo – I think that shows the commitment and hard work.”
A battle of the breaks in the opening set left spectators on the edge of their seats as there appeared to be little between the No.1 and No.2 seed. However, it was the British No.1 who looked to be in pole position after earning a total of five set points at 6-5, but Kunieda recovered well from a 40-0 deficit to call for a tiebreak. At the sixth time of asking, the Briton crossed the finish line after producing his second ace of the set to claim the scoreboard advantage.
Winning five straight points, Hewett was awarded with an immediate break in the second before consolidating his lead with a comfortable hold and a second break to build a healthy 3-0 lead. The 24-year-old proceeded to break his opponent for a fourth time in the set, producing 39 winners in total and finding championship point to close out the match with a straight-sets masterclass.
After claiming his third US Open title, Hewett shared his thoughts and emotions as he dedicated his win to his family back home.
“I want to dedicate this one to my grandad,” said Hewett. “I hope you haven’t turned off the TV because I know you normally hate it when it gets close, so hopefully you’ll be watching and that one’s for you mate!”
In yesterday’s men’s doubles final however, Hewett and fellow Brit Gordon Reid, missed out on the chance to win a sixth consecutive US Open title as they lost 4-6, 7-5, 10-6 to second seeds Martin de la Puente and Nicolas Peifer.
Hewett and Reid had the chance to serve for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but De la Puente and Peifer proved resilient and claimed two breaks to set up a match tie-break. The young Spaniard stole the show in the decider and pushed him and his partner to an 8-3 lead before seeing out the win in two hours and 20 minutes.
The British duo finish the season with two Grand Slam titles to their name – the Australian Open and French Open – leaving their total as a team at an incredible 15.