Lapthorne: The monkey is off my back

Brit completes career doubles Grand Slam after near-miss last year

David Wagner, Andy Lapthorne, Roland-Garros 2021, quad final© AmÈlie Laurin/FFT
 - Danielle Rossingh

Britain’s Andy Lapthorne and his American partner David Wagner beat Australia’s Dylan Alcott and Sam Schroder of the Netherlands 7-6(1), 4-6, (10-7) in the quad wheelchair men’s doubles final at Roland-Garros on Sunday

It was an emotional victory for Lapthorne, who completed the career Grand Slam of quad wheelchair doubles titles less than a year after coming within one point of the title in Paris.

“It’s incredible,” Lapthorne said after the win. “The monkey is off my back. Every now and again, this game reminds you why you play.”

Lapthorne paid tribute to his experienced American partner, who played some of his best tennis at crucial moments.

“The guy is so clutch,” said Lapthorne. “In big moments, he makes it very easy for you. He gives you breathing space.”

The 47-year-old Wagner, who has now won the quad wheelchair doubles title at Roland-Garros with three different partners since it was first held three years ago, took it all in his stride.

“I just loving playing, whether it’s singles or doubles, and I always want to play my best with whoever I play with,” said Wagner, who has now won six major doubles titles with Lapthorne. “I don’t want to let them down, and I want to just be the best I can be out there. If I get to be a lucky charm, then I’ll take it.”

More British success

Earlier in the day, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid won the men’s wheelchair doubles, beating the French pairing of Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 6-3, 6-0 to become the most successful British doubles pair of all time.

“What we're doing as a doubles partnership is very special within wheelchair tennis,” Hewett said on Sunday.

Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid, wheelchair, Roland-Garros 2021, final© Amélie Laurin / FFT

“We've created a good bond on court...We're a force to be reckoned with right now. We're playing some of the best tennis as a doubles partnership that we have in the seven, eight years that we've been working together,” Hewett added.

Hewett and Reid have now won 11 Grand Slam doubles titles together. That’s one more than the previous record-holders, brothers Laurie and Reginald Doherty, who won their 10 Grand Slam titles between 1897 and 1905.

Their success is a major confidence booster for the Tokyo Paralympics this summer. Hewett and Reid, who won a silver medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, are aiming for gold in Japan.

“Winning breeds confidence,” said Reid. “Obviously the more we win, the more the confidence builds... But we know that the Paralympics is a massive competition. There's quite a few teams out there that are dangerous. They all have their eyes on the same goal.”