Eastcote’s Andy Lapthorne will go into next week’s Australian Open wheelchair tennis event in fine form after beating two of the players he will face at the first Grand Slam of the year to win the quad singles at the ITF 2 Series Melbourne Open.
World No.4 Lapthorne, runner-up to Australian world No.1 Dylan Alcott at last week’s Sydney Open Super Series event, avenged that loss to defeat Alcott 7-6(4), 6-3 in the semi-finals of his second tournament of the year.
He then faced world No. 3 Lucas Sithole in Thursday’s final, a 7-5, 0-6, 7-5 victory giving Lapthorne his second win over the South African in a week.
“It’s great to get two big back-to-back wins in before the first Grand Slam of the year, so I’m heading to the Australian Open with lots of confidence,” said Lapthorne, who also maintained his unbeaten doubles record for the season when partnering fellow Brit Antony Cotterill to successive 6-0, 6-2 wins at this week’s event on the outskirts of Melbourne.
“I beat Lucas here last year, but hadn’t beaten him since then until we met in Sydney last week. It was good to get over that mental hurdle and now to do it again.”
Lapthorne, the 2014 US Open quad singles champion, will bid to win his first Australian Open singles title next week, when he also partners Alcott in the quad doubles. The Middlesex 25-year-old already has four Australian Open doubles titles to his name, two with fellow Brit Peter Norfolk, with who Lapthorne won the silver medal at the London 2012 Paralympics, and two with American David Wagner.
Lapthorne is one of four players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme who will contest the Australian Open from Wednesday 27th to Saturday 30th January.
He will play Alcott, Sithole and Wagner in round-robin competition over three successive days at Melbourne Park. The top two players after the completion of the round-robin will go forward to the quad singles final.