Chance of historic double British triumph for Alfie Hewett at French Open
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Opportunity knocks for Norfolk's Alfie Hewett in Paris today as he tries to become the first Brit to win the men's wheelchair singles title at the French Open.
The 19-year-old beat Japan’s former world number one Shingo Kunieda – a six-time champion at Roland Garros – 6-4 6-4 in the first grand slam singles semi-final of his career to move into the final.
Hewett, from Cantley, near Acle, followed that up by reaching the doubles final alongside British number one Gordon Reid – which will also be played today.
“Today was another tough day, as I expected. Shingo played well and made me really push for the win. It was very close one and thankfully I was able to hold serve at 5-4 on both occasions,” said Hewett. “It’s a great feeling to get to my first Grand Slam final. I didn’t think I would get this far. I’m going to give it my all against Gustavo tomorrow and I expect another very strong opponent.”
It may be the best singles progress at a grand slam for the former Acle High School pupil but he did win silver in the singles and doubles at the Paralympics in Rio last year. He is also the reigning Wimbledon doubles champion, having won that title last summer alongside Reid, who he paired up with to beat Gustavo Fernandez and Maikel Scheffers 6-4 3-6 10-8 in the doubles semi-final yesterday.
Hewett faces reigning singles champion Fernandez in the final today, who is two places higher in the world rankings than the former City College Norwich student at number five.
The Argentinian beat Nicolas Peifer 6-2 6-2 in the other semi-final, having beaten Reid 6-2 6-0 in the quarter-finals.
They are up first on court six from 11am and then Hewett, who is part of the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme, is then back on the same court later for the men’s wheelchair doubles final
He and Reid will face their main rivals, French number one seeds Stephane Houdet and Peifer – who they beat in the Wimbledon final but lost to in the Paralympic final last year – and try to become the first all-Brit partnership to win a wheelchair doubles title in Paris.
“To get back on court and win the doubles in a tight match was really pleasing,” Hewett added. “With the home French crowd supporting Stephane and Nico, I’m sure the final will be another great match.”