Whiley makes Grand Slam history at US Open
by Marshall Thomas
Jordanne Whiley made tennis history on Saturday, becoming the first British player to win a calendar year Grand Slam after partnering Japan’s Yui Kamiji to win the women’s doubles wheelchair tennis title at the US Open in New York.
Andy Lapthorne also ensured his place in Sunday’s quad singles final, while finishing runner-up in the quad doubles for the second successive year, with Gordon Reid finishing runner-up in the men’s doubles after coming agonisingly close to the taking the title with his Dutch partner Maikel Scheffers.
Whiley and Kamiji, the 2014 Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions, beat reigning US Open champions Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to become the first non-Dutch partnership to win all four women’s doubles wheelchair tennis titles at the four majors in the same year.
No British tennis player had ever previously won the same event at all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year.
“I can't describe how I feel to make history. I'm so proud of achieving this for British Tennis,” said 22-year-old Whiley. “I’ve been through a whole mixture of emotions today. I felt sick on court with the heat and all the nerves, but now I’m so happy and, as I said after Wimbledon, it’s successes like this that help repay all the support of family and friends, and the support from the Tennis Foundation and UK Sport.”
Whiley and Kamiji came from 4-2 down to win the last four games of the opening set and then led the third and final set 4-3 and 15-0 when rain forced the players off court. However, on the resumption Whiley served out for a 5-3 lead and she and Kamiji then broke their opponents one last time to add to their victories over Griffioen and van Koot in Roland Garros and Wimbledon finals.
“I'm not usually good with rain delays but we busted out some moves in the locker room to some Motown and that helped,” added Whiley. “Me and Yui are really good friends and I love her to pieces. We had a really good first set but dipped in the second and I'm just so glad we pulled it out in the third. I've been working on my game to make myself more consistent and I really want to move my performance into my singles game now.”
Lapthorne will play American world No. 1 David Wagner in Sunday’s quad singles final after finishing in one of the top two positions following the completion of the round-robin phase of the competition. After winning his first two matches of the week world No. 3 Lapthorne slipped to a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Wagner on Saturday, but will aim to avenge the result when they meet again in Sunday’s final.
“I had a really good start to the week, including my second win in successive weeks over Lucas, who’s the world No. 2. It just wasn’t my day today, but tomorrow’s a new day and a new start and I’m really looking forward to giving it my all for the final,” said Lapthorne ahead of his second Grand Slam singles final.
Lapthorne and South Africa’s Lucas Sithole also pushed three-time Paralympic gold medallists Nick Taylor and Wagner in the quad doubles final but the American top seeds eventually sealed their sixth US Open title 6-3, 7-5.
In the men’s doubles final second seeds Reid and Scheffers fought back against top seeds Houdet and Kunieda to dominate the second set and then had two match points at 6-5 up in the third and deciding set. However, having finished runners-up to Houdet and Kunieda in the Australian Open in January, Reid and Scheffers found their opponents to have the edge once again and Wimbledon champions Houdet and Kunieda went on to win their third Grand Slam title of the year 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4) despite Reid and Scheffers saving three match points in the final set tie-break.