Wimbledon: Alfie Hewett into first wheelchair singles final after remarkable comeback


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Alfie Hewett.
Alfie Hewett has now reached the singles and doubles finals of all four Grand Slam tournaments
Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

Britain’s Alfie Hewett captured the hearts of Court One with a remarkable comeback to reach his first Wimbledon men’s wheelchair singles final.

Hewett came from a set and two breaks of serve down to beat Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.

“That was incredible – I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” the 24-year-old said in an emotional on-court interview.

Later, Hewett and partner Gordon Reid reached the final of the men’s doubles.

The defending champions prevailed 6-3 1-6 7-6 (10-7) following a tense conclusion to their match against Dutchman Tom Egberink and Belgium’s Joachim Gerard.

That contest of two hours 46 minutes meant Hewett spent a total of five hours 49 minutes on court in a dramatic Friday at SW19.

World number two Hewett, who had lost two previous singles semi-finals at Wimbledon, meets Japanese top seed Shingo Kunieda in the singles final on Sunday.

Hewett and Fernandez received a standing ovation after their three-hour tussle in which the Briton rallied from behind to cancel out a superb start from his South American opponent.

The players traded 14 breaks of serve and an array of eye-catching winners in a seesaw encounter that thrilled the showpiece court’s large crowd.

“We try to improve the exposure of our sport and I think we showcased a pretty good level today,” added five-time Grand Slam singles champion Hewett.

‘Pushed to be in front of a bigger crowd’

Alfie Hewett.
Alfie Hewett’s semi-final against Gustavo Fernandez was played in front of a large crowd on Court One

After his quarter-final win over close friend Reid on Thursday, Hewett told BBC Sport he was “disappointed” the all-British encounter had been played on court 14, rather than promoted to a show court.

All England Club schedulers appeared to have taken his comments on board, moving Hewett’s semi-final against Fernandez, also a five-time Grand Slam winner, from court three to the 12,345-capacity Court One.

“I was actually asleep at 9.30 last night and I kept getting phone calls from the [tournament] referee,” Hewett said.

“I thought it’s probably nothing important, just leave it – and it was actually a court change to Court One so once I found that out I didn’t get much sleep after that.

“I’ve been buzzing for this sort of occasion.

“We’ve been lucky enough to be on court three and we’ve tried to push for our sport to be demonstrated in front of a bigger crowd.”

The lack of sleep might have been the reason for Hewett’s sluggish start as he struggled on serve throughout the opening two sets, even double-faulting four times in one game to gift Fernandez one of his breaks of serve.

But from 6-2 5-1 down, the Briton won five successive games to force a tie-break, which he won handsomely.

Hewett again dropped serve in the opening game of the deciding set but broke back to level at 4-4 and held in a marathon 15-minute game before again breaking Fernandez to seal an unforgettable victory.

He now faces 27-time Grand Slam singles champion Kunieda, who brushed aside Gerard 6-1 6-1 in his semi-final and is chasing a career Slam, with Wimbledon the only major missing from his trophy cabinet.

Elsewhere, Britain’s Andy Lapthorne and American David Wagner advanced to the quad wheelchair doubles final when one of their opponents, South African Donald Ramphadi, fell out of his chair and was unable to continue.

Lucy Shuker, however, suffered a semi-final defeat as she and South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane were beaten 6-4 6-2 by Japan’s Yui Kamiji and American Dana Mathewson in the women’s wheelchair doubles.

Hewett and Reid continue bid for record-extending win

Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid
Alfie Hewett (left) and Gordon Reid have not lost a Slam final together since Wimbledon in 2019

Hewett and Reid’s pursuit of a record-extending 11th consecutive Grand Slam doubles title continued as they eventually overcame Egberink and Gerard – the pair the Britons beat in last year’s final – in a captivating final-set tie-break.

The 15-time major doubles champions and four-time Wimbledon winners dropped serve early on but won four successive games to take charge with a 4-2 lead on Court One.

The top seeds then responded immediately to another setback before serving out the opening set, but they could not recover from a similarly slow start to the second as a double break saw their opponents level the match.

Egberink and Gerard appeared to have all the momentum as they broke to love in the opening game of a deciding set played out under the Court One roof because of the fading light.

But Hewett and Reid hit back and after a tense, lengthy rally they took control with a break of serve for a 4-2 lead.

The match then took another twist as Egberink and Gerard broke with the home favourites serving for a place in the final, before Hewett and Reid missed two match points on their opponent’s serve in the following game.

With a final-set 10-point tie-break required to settle the contest, the British pair saw a 4-0 advantage disappear as Egberink and Gerard battled back to 5-5.

Undeterred, Hewett and Reid created three match points at 9-6 and clinched their second opportunity to the delight of their loyal supporters as the clock hit 22:00 BST.

Second seeds Kunieda and Argentine Gustavo Fernandez await in Saturday’s final, which will start not before 13:00 on court three.

“It’s a dream come true for us, honestly,” said Reid.

“I appreciate that a lot of people here, when they bought tickets for Court One on the second Friday, they weren’t expecting to see a couple of wheelchair matches.

“But we hope you were entertained and hopefully we’ve recruited a few more wheelchair tennis fans today.”

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