Tennis history for De Groot

 - Kate Battersby

Dutch No.1 seed becomes first woman ever to hold all four Slam titles.

Diede De Groot, Roland Garros 2019, Simple Dames Tennis Fauteuil, Finale, ©Philippe Montigny / FFT

Diede de Groot made tennis history in the women’s wheelchair championship when she overwhelmed her old rival Yui Kamiji to capture her first Roland-Garros crown.

It made 22-year-old De Groot the first woman in history to hold the women’s wheelchair singles titles at all four Grand Slams simultaneously.

In a repeat of their Australian Open final clash, the No.1 seed defeated the Japanese 6-0, 6-1, although the 59-minute battle was tougher than the scoreline suggested. If the victory could be any sweeter for De Groot, it was a reversal of her defeat to Kamiji here in last year’s final. In this their 26th career meeting, the Dutchwoman closed her deficit to 12-14 overall.

“It feels a bit unreal,” said De Groot afterwards. “I wasn’t actually feeling very confident after my semi-final where I didn’t play very well. I’m just really happy that I managed to keep it together.

“Luckily Paris isn’t very far from home so my parents and one of my sisters came out to watch, which was really nice. Usually they don’t get to see me play because they work and can’t get that much time off, but this week, when it’s only a four-hour drive they can do it all in a day. It’s really good to have them here.”

Meanwhile, in the men’s wheelchair singles final Gustavo Fernandez, the No.2 seed, defeated Gordon Reid 6-1, 6-3. Among the spectators courtside was Fernandez’ compatriot, footballer Juan Sebastian Veron, capped 73 times for Argentina before his retirement.

On Friday left-hander Reid caused the shock of the wheelchair tournament by dispatching Japan’s seven-times singles champion and holder Shingo Kunieda in the semis, but the Briton could not stay with Fernandez in the final, slumping to his sixth consecutive defeat to the Argentinian.

“I did a great job,” said Fernandez. “I knew I had the strength and the mental capacity to play at the required intensity. I knew he could do it too so I was ready for it. Me and my team left nothing to chance. It was a big honour Juan Sebastian was here. I’ve met him a couple of times before but it was really good to have him here.”

In the quad singles final Dylan Alcott stretched his winning streak over David Wagner in Grand Slam finals to seven. But it was a gritty battle as the Australian No.1 seed came through 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

Alcott’s victory added to his ever-growing mountain of landmarks. He not only maintained his perfect record in Grand Slam finals, but extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 12 matches, along with his Tour-level winning streak to 17.

It was a busy day of action for all three winners of the singles titles. Fernandez was in action again in the wheelchair doubles, pairing with Shingo Kunieda to take on the No.1 seeds Nicolas Peifer and Stephane Houdet. Having lost the first set, Fernandez and Kunieda hauled themselves back in the second, although Fernandez needed physiotherapy to his right (racquet) hand as the set neared its climax. It did the trick, as he and Kineida edged the champions tiebreak to win 2-6, 6-2, [10-8].

Alcott was another player to celebrate twice, as he and David Wagner combined in the quad doubles final. Taking on Ymanitu Silva and Koji Sugeno, Alcott and Wagner triumphed 6-3, 6-3.

Alcott De Groot Kunieda ITF Champions Dinner 2019©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

It was a day of triple triumph for De Groot. Just a couple of hours after meeting in the singles final, she and Kamiji faced off again in one of the two women’s wheelchair doubles semi-finals postponed from Friday. De Groot and Aniek Van Koot, the No.1 seeds, fought back from a set down to Kamiji and Giulia Capocci, going through 3-6, 6-4 [10-4].

In the other semi-final the No.2 seeds Marjolein Buis and Sabine Ellerbrock came through in two tight sets against Charlotte Famin and Kgothatso Montjane. In a match lasting an hour and 35 minutes, Buis and Ellerbrock won 6-3, 6-4.

Come the final, De Groot set aside all fatigue. She and Van Koot scorched past Buis and Ellerbrock 6-1, 6-1 to take the trophy.