Eastcote’s Andy Lapthorne and Ickenham’s Jordanne Whiley start their latest bids for Grand Slam success at the Australian Open on Wednesday after both securing significant results in the first two tournaments of the season in Sydney and Melbourne.
World No. 3 Lapthorne finished runner-up in the quad singles at the Melbourne Open over the weekend after being edged out in a final set tie-break in Sunday’s final against South African world No. 2 Lucas Sithiole. The Brit will now play Sithole in the first of his three round-robin quad singles matches at Melbourne Park before going on to face American world No. 1 David Wagner and Australian Dylan Alcott in the four-way competition. The top two players after the conclusion of the round-robin phase of the Australian Open event will then go through to final over the weekend.
Lapthorne made his seasonal debut at the Melbourne Open, securing a 6-2 6-7(3) 6-2 win over Alcott in the semi-finals after having had match points in the second set. Another close contest against Sithole ended with the South African prevailing 6-4 5-7 7-6(5).
“The Melbourne Open was my warm up event for the Australian Open last year and although I won the title then the competition wasn’t as strong,” said Lapthorne, who has two Australian quad doubles titles to his name already after partnering fellow Brit Peter Norfolk to victory in 2011 and 2012. “It was a tough final to lose, but a decent preparation for the Australian Open and it’s good to get two matches under my belt against players I’ll face at the Grand Slam.”
Lapthorne was runner-up to Wagner at Melbourne Park in 2013 after reaching his first Grand Slam quad singles final and the Middlesex player will partner the American in the quad doubles this time.
Whiley started her season by reaching the first Super Series women’s doubles final of the year early last week at the Sydney International Open.
The British No. 2 and world No. 7 partnered Japan’s Yui Kamiji to a 6-4, 6-3 semi-final win over Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock and South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane, repeating two wins over the same opponents en route to winning the ITF Wheelchair Doubles Masters title in California in November. Only fellow Brit Lucy Shuker and Duchwoman Jiske Griffioen, the top seeds, prevented Whiley and Kamiji from winning a second Super Series titles.
Whiley and Kamiji sat out the women’s doubles at the ITF 2 Series Melbourne Open and the Wimbledon finalists will start as top seeds for the women’s doubles at the Australian Open.
“It’s very exciting to go into my second Australian Open with a top seeding and I’ve got a great doubles record with Yui, so we can’t wait to get started,” said Whiley.
After two quarter-final berths in her two singles events in Sydney and Melbourne so far this season, Whiley is confident she is hitting form ahead of playing Dutchwoman Sharon Walraven in the first round of the women’s singles on Wednesday.
“Both quarter-finals this year have been against higher ranked top 10 players and I’ve had some good practice sessions in Melbourne with Dutch world No. 5 Marjolein Buis, which gives me plenty of confidence going into the Grand Slam,” added Whiley. “Sharon will undoubtedly be a tough opponent, but I’ve beaten in her in two of our last three matches and I really want my first singles win at a Grand Slam.”
Lapthorne and Whiley are two of four players on the Tennis Foundation's Wheelchair Tennis Performance Programme vying for honours at the Australian Open.