Trio of Brits set to begin US Open campaigns
by Marshall Thomas
Jordanne Whiley faces Dutch world No. 5 Marjolein Buis, Gordon Reid plays Argentina’s world No. 4 Gustavo Fernandez and Andy Lapthorne meets American world No. 6 Nick Taylor when the three Brits on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Programme begin their men’s, women’s and quad singles challenges on Thursday at the US Open in New York.
World No. 6 Whiley is bidding to reach her second Grand Slam singles semi-final of 2014 after winning her first singles match at one of the four majors at the Australian Open in January.
Whiley is also out to try and create a piece of British tennis history when the British No. 1 and Japan’s Yui Kamiji, the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions, attempt to complete a full set of women’s doubles titles.
No Brit, neither wheelchair player nor non-disabled player, has ever won all four Grand Slam titles in the same event in the same calendar year. Top seeds Whiley and Kamiji, currently the world’s top two ranked doubles players, will start their US Open challenge against Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock and South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane, the same partnership they beat in the semi-finals in Melbourne and Paris.
“I was actually quite nervous waiting for the draw to take place but now it’s done, I’m feeling really good and can’t wait to get on court at Flushing Meadows tomorrow,” said Whiley. “I know it will be a tough match against Marjolein but I am confident I can reach the semis and I’m also really looking forward to starting my doubles campaign with Yui on Friday. It’s very exciting being here at another Grand Slam and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”
World No. 3 Reid is attempting to reach the men’s singles semi-finals in New York for the second successive year. Like Whiley and Lapthorne he is also making his second US Open appearance and he teams up with Dutchman Maikel Scheffers for the men’s doubles as the duo bid to go one better than their runners-up placing at the Australian Open. Reid and Scheffers play French duo Michael Jeremiasz and Nicolas Peifer later in the week for a place in the men’s doubles final.
“I’ve got great memories of my first US Open last year and it’s great to be back in New York,” said Reid. “I’ve played Gustavo three times this season and won all three matches, so although I’m expecting another tough contest I’ll be going all out to reach another semi-final.”
After playing Taylor on Thursday, world No. 3 Lapthorne will also face world American No. 1 David Wagner and South African world No. 2 and defending champion Lucas Sithole on Thursday or Friday as the quad singles begins in round-robin format. The top two players after the round-robin phase of the competition will go through to Sunday’s final.
Lapthorne and Sithole will also meet three-time Paralympic champions Taylor and Wagner for the quad doubles title later in the week as the Brit bids to follow up his third Australian Open title, which he won partnering Wagner in January. Lapthorne and Sithole also played Taylor and Wagner in New York in 2013, finishing runners-up after a three set final.
“I always love coming to New York and playing at the US Open so I’m looking forward to getting my round robin event off to a good start,” said Lapthorrne. “Nick is always a tricky opponent to play but I do have a good record against him so I’m looking to get a win under my belt and build on that for the rest of my matches.”