Australian Open: Five things we learnt from the wheelchair tennis draw
By Gemma-Louise Stevenson
Last Updated: 27/01/19 4:42pm
The curtain has come down on the first Slam of the year but the season has only just begun.
In the wheelchair draw both Diede de Groot and Dylan Alcott did the double, claiming singles and doubles titles in the women's and quads divisions respectively.
Gustavo Fernandez reclaimed the men's open division singles title which he last won in 2017.
Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson cemented their position as one of the partnerships to beat by picking up their first Grand Slam doubles title.
How Alcott made para-sport mainstream
Imagine arriving at a Grand Slam and the most famous tennis talent there plays wheelchair tennis.
All in all it was a classic tournament for wheelchair tennis at the Australian Open. Sky Sports takes a look at five things we have learnt from the draw this year.
The Dutch women still dominate
De Groot successfully defended her singles title at Melbourne Park after a dominant display against Japan's Yui Kamiji.
Compatriot Aniek van Koot also joined forces with De Groot to take the doubles title, meaning the women's division this year saw players from the Netherlands take every trophy available.
As a result of the victory, Van Koot has now picked up four Australian Open doubles titles throughout her career.
"It's terrific to win here and to end the tournament on a winning streak," she said.
"To be able to win a Grand Slam together, together with Diede, it's special, and we are going to play more doubles together this year."
We really need to keep working and keep searching for new talent because it's really important and other countries are catching up on us.
Diede de Groot
The domination of the Dutch comes as no surprise, though, as when it comes to wheelchair tennis the country has always seen a great deal of success.
World No 1 De Groot believes this domination of the women's game, in particular, is easy to explain
"I think we've done a lot of good things in the past which is why we have such a good field of women," she told Sky Sports after the final.
"I do think other countries are catching up on us, though, and there's not a lot after us at the minute. So we really need to keep working and keep searching for new talent, because it's really important and other countries are catching up on us."
There's a men's division rivalry we really don't talk about enough
When Fernandez and Olsson met on the singles court on finals weekend the anticipation was that it was going to be a closely-fought contest, which would showcase some high-quality tennis - and it did.
They have met 20 times over the course of their careers, both have won 10 of those meetings and neither of them have been able to get more than two victories in a row against the other.
Going into the singles final Olsson had the upper hand when it came to Slam finals, though, having beaten Fernandez in their two previous meetings at Wimbledon.
But at Melbourne Park it was Fernandez's turn to come out on top, meaning he ended two years of hurt, having won his last Slam singles title in 2017, at this very event.
"I still can't believe it," he said. "It was really tough to win a Slam again, some people don't know how tough it is.
"I love playing against Stefan and I think it's good for us because we both like to play each other and make it tougher for each other each time we meet. So that's good for both the competition and wheelchair tennis.
"Today it was my turn to get the win and I worked really hard for this moment and that thing and what it represents, it's so much more than a trophy to me."
Gerard and Olsson are hungry for more
After lifting their first Grand Slam doubles title together, Belgium's Gerard is quite clear about what he hopes he can achieve alongside Olsson in the future.
"I think we can win everything," he said. "We are able to do it, we showed it in the Masters and we can beat everyone like everyone can beat us.
"We are aware of that and that's why we're going to have to be at our best to do it. But we can really win anything and everything, all the Grand Slams. It could be amazing to do the whole thing in one year. I'm not saying that we will do it, but we are able to do it and the aim is to try and do our best at each of them."
Sweden's Olsson agrees with his partner, and he added: "We are good friends off the court as well which really helps and being in the Wimbledon final last year, and all the little bits of experience we've had leading up to this moment it's definitely helped, and we've been able to use it to improve things.
"If we play well there's going to be a lot of pairs that are going to have a big problem with us."
Challenges aren't always a good thing
During the quad doubles final on Rod Laver Arena, Britain's Andy Lapthorne seemed to have mastered the art of the challenge, but that was until a certain point.
But he was not the only one who had a difficult relationship with Hawkeye this year. In his all-important third round-robin singles match against David Wagner, Australia's Heath Davidson decided to challenge a call on his opponent's serve, believing it had landed out.
In reality it was so far in that a double-decker bus would have fitted between the ball and the line.
Could a book be the secret to Grand Slam success?
Just before this year's Australian Open draw began, two out of the three singles champions had released books about their careers as athletes and their lives off court - Australia's Alcott and Argentina's Fernandez.
"Maybe that's the secret and I'll tell the other guys not to get a book because maybe they'll win next time," Fernandez said laughing.
"Honestly, though, I don't think the book really was the key. I think the key is what I did off court both physically and mentally in preparation and on court here, at least I hope it is."
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