Australian quad wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott has done it again, winning the French Open final in straight sets against young challenger Sam Schroder.
It wasn’t easy for Alcott, but the veteran steadied at crucial times to claim the title 6-4 6-2, claiming his third straight French Open title and his 13th Grand Slam.
The Aussie remains as the only player to have won the men’s quad wheelchair singles title at Roland Garros, winning every title since the event was added to the draw in 2019.
But Alcott was made to work for it, winning only 17 more points overall in the match despite coming away with a straight-sets win.
Shaky serving threatened to derail Alcott, who served seven double faults compared to Schroder’s two, but his efficiency in converting break points (winning seven out of eight opportunities) was vital in tight moments.
The Dutch Schroder was the first player to get going, holding his serve in the opening game and going on to break Alcott to make it 3-1 in the opening set. But he couldn’t convert his break, losing a nerve-wracking deuce game that allowed Alcott to re-enter the contest.
But another break to Schroder proved the young player’s worth, as he looked primed to cause yet another upset on Alcott. Memories of the 2020 US Open final seemed to be plaguing Alcott’s mind, but the champion went on a scintillating run to claim the next four games and win the first set 6-4.
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All of these games were won in long deuce games, with the game worthy of a bigger crowd.
Breaking once again to win his fifth game on the trot and lead 1-0 in the second set, Alcott had quickly gone from trailing to being in the box seat to claim Grand Slam title number 13.
But Schroder wasn’t going to give up easily, snatching back the ascendancy in a topsy-turvy contest where serving was constantly attacked.
This fight from Schroder only brought out the best in Alcott, who relaxed into his rhythm and began taking control of most rallies. The Aussie flew out to a 4-1 lead, claiming the next three games including two breaks of Schroder’s serve.
Despite suffering one break back, Alcott was never headed on his way to winning the second set 6-2. It was an emphatic end to a tighter match than the scoreline shows, as Alcott was made to work harder than ever to win his third straight French Open.
The hat-trick of wins in Paris confirms Alcott’s status as one of the modern greats, as another flawless tournament may be his farewell to Roland Garros. The 30-year-old signalled after his latest Australian Open win that he may be in his final year on tour, making this French Open win all the more special.
Schroder may have fallen to Alcott once again, but his steady improvement on all surfaces holds in good stead for the post-Alcott era of quad wheelchair singles tennis. The Dutchman is now firmly entrenched in the top three in the world for the event, as he should continue to push Alcott in majors finals in 2021.
But for now, it’s another night to savour for Dylan Alcott, an Australian sporting legend.
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