There was a huge shock in the wheelchair men’s singles at the Australian Open on Tuesday afternoon as the first grand slam of the year got underway. The number one seed, Gordon Reid was eliminated in three sets as Belgian Joachim Gerard shocked the top seed.
In truth that match is not a big shock, as the tournament goes right to the quarter-finals meaning there are only two seeds in the tournament. That put everyone else in to an open draw, which meant Gerard drew Reid, which saw the world number one taking on the world number three.
The whole match was tight with both players unable to really get control of the match, with each set winner needing seven games to claim the set with Gerard winning 7-5, 5-7, 7-5. The key in the end was Gerard’s ability to save break points, holding Reid to a 9/16 (56%) conversion rate, while Gerard was more clinical managing 10/14 (71%).
Gerard’s backhand was his strength as he hit 20 backhand winners, 13 of them as ground strokes, with over 20 forehand winners his diversity forced Reid to move around the court. By comparison Reid was overwhelmingly using his forehand, hitting just 11 winners with his backhand.
Frenchman Nicolas Peifer was easily through to the semifinals as he managed a straight sets 6-2, 6-3 win over Dutchman Maikel Scheffers. Scheffers didn’t manage to convert a single break point which cost him dearly as he fell to the big losses with Peifer managing three breaks, enough to cruise to the victory.
The only Australian was eliminated in straight sets, disappointing the home crows as Gustavo Fernandez continued his good week, knocking out Ben Weekes. It was the most convincing win of the quarterfinal round as he claimed the win 6-2, 6-2.
It was a dominant performance at the net from Fernandez as he controlled things from the net after serves. In the end the 15 unforced errors from Weekes were too much to make up for despite his five aces.
The only other seeded player also nearly faced an upset in what was a rollercoaster match with French number two Stephane Houdet just getting past Briton Alfie Hewett. Houdet won the first set 6-3 and was seemingly cruising in the second set but ended up falling apart giving Hewett the win 3-6 before he recovered for a 6-3 win in the final set.
It was a tight match with Houdet narrowly leading in most statistics, in the end Hewett’s six double faults may have been what cost him. Hewett made 23 unforced errors compared to just 13 from Houdet who managed to keep his match together and that proved the vital difference.