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Hewett aims to stay relaxed as defence of French Open title begins

Alfie Hewett celebrating his French Open singles victory at Roland Garros last year. Picture: Tennis Foundation

Alfie Hewett celebrating his French Open singles victory at Roland Garros last year. Picture: Tennis Foundation

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Alfie Hewett returns to the scene of his first grand slam singles triumph today, on the famous clay courts of Roland Garros.

The men’s wheelchair tennis world number one begins the defence of his singles title against fellow Brit – and his doubles partner – Gordon Reid.

Hewett, from Cantley, had already won the 2016 Wimbledon doubles crown with Reid, as well as two Paralympic silver medals, when he secured the first major singles title of his career in Paris.

Since last year the duo have retained their Wimbledon doubles title and added the US Open title to their collection, with 20-year-old former City College Norwich student Hewett also the singles runner-up at the Australian Open.

“Last year was a bit of a shock, really,” the world number one said of his French Open singles success. “Looking back, it was a great experience and a great achievement, so I’m just focusing on what I need to do again this year rather than putting any expectations or pressure on myself.

“I’m just going to out there with an open mind and to try and enjoy it again.”

It will be only second time the British pair have met in a Grand Sam, after Hewett won their US Open semi in New York last year, although Reid won their Paralympic final in 2016.

They then turn their attentions to doubles tomorrow when they will face Frederic Cattaneo of France and Stefan Olsson of Sweden, as they try to go one better than last year’s final defeat.

“When it comes to doubles, on our day we’re more than capable of beating anyone and we proved that last week when we won the Japan Open with a really strong performance,” Hewett added.

The former Acle High School pupil is looking to bounce back from defeat to Shingo Kunieda of Japan in Sunday’s World Team Cup final, when GB’s men won silver for the second year in a row.

That event saw another Norfolk youngster making his GB debut, Norwich 12-year-old Ben Bartram beating Muhammad Izwan 6-0 6-1 in the first singles rubber of their victorious play-off for seventh place.

“The last 10 days have been absolutely amazing,” Bartram said. “I’ve had the time of my life In Apeldoorn (Holland) with my friends, playing the sport I love and representing the country.”

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