ITF UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tournament to be held at the Fosterville Gold Tennis Centre, Nolan Street, Bendigo, Victoria:
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The UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour adds a new venue to its roster this week when Bendigo becomes the latest city to host one of the sport’s six Super Series tournaments on 9th to 13th January 2019.
Approximately 150Km north of Melbourne, the recently redeveloped Bendigo Tennis Centre stages the first of three weeks of international wheelchair tennis in Victoria, culminating in the Australia Open, the first Grand Slam of the year.
A stellar field that features players from 17 countries includes nine of the world’s Top 10 men, seven of the world’s Top 10 women and five of the world’s Top 10 quad players.
Four players won men’s singles Super Series titles in 2017 and three of them line-up for the Bendigo Wheelchair Tennis Open, with only current world No. 2 Alfie Hewett missing.
Previously held in Sydney, Australia’s Super Series was won by Shingo Kunieda in 2017 as the Japanese star claimed his first Super Series singles title since June 2015 and the first of what turned out to be two Super Series titles last season. Kunieda lines up this year alongside opposition that includes Belgium’s world No. 4 Joachim Gerard, who denied the eight-time ITF World Champion a victorious end to 2018 at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters.
Among those challenging Kunieda and Gerard will be world No. 3 Gustavo Fernandez and world No. 7 Gordon Reid, both Super Series champions in 2018. Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Stefan Olsson will also be among those looking to begin the 2019 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour in style after partnering Reid to win last week’s men’s doubles event at the Brisbane International.
World No. 2 Yui Kamiji, world No. 3 Aniek van Koot and world No. 3 Sabine Ellerbrock head the women’s singles entries. Kamiji will be out to defend the ranking points she accrued for winning the first Super Series of 2018, while van Koot ended last season as the only player to beat both Kamiji and world No. 1 Diede de Groot during the year.
While world No. 6 Kgothatso Montjane, world No. 7 Lucy Shuker, world No. 8 Marjolein Buis and world No. 9 Katharina Kruger are also among a stacked field, the current Top 10 players will need to look out for the likes of talented Chinese Zhenzhen Zhu, who reached her first career Super Series final at last year’s Cajun Classic.
After ending 2018 as quad ITF World Champion for the first time, Dylan Alcott completes a full complement of last year’s singles champions in Sydney who will be looking to defend their Super Series points in Bendigo. Alcott and world No. 5 Heath Davidson head the Australian challenge on home soil once again, with Alcott unbeaten in his last two tournaments after ending 2018 by winning the US Open in New York and the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in Orlando.
World No. 2 David Wagner, who occupied the top spot until the conclusion of the NEC Masters in December, won three of last year’s six Super Series events and finished runner-up to Alcott in Sydney 12 months ago after a three-set final. With the current top five ranked players in action in Bendigo, Alcott, Wagner and Davidson line up alongside Japan’s Koji Sugeno and Brit Andy Lapthorne.
World No. 4 Sugeno claimed his first career Super Series title in France last season, but came up short against Korea Republic’s Kyu-Seung Kim in the final of the Asian Para Games and Kim is also among this week’s opposition.