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Shingo Kunieda

 

Top seed Shingo Kunieda has continued his dominance at the Australian Open, winning the men’s wheelchair singles title after blasting past Gustavo Fernandez 6-0 6-1 in Saturday’s final.

The Japanese world number one won his seventh Australian Open singles title, breezing past Fernandez in just 52 minutes on Court 6.

Kunieda broke the Argentine three times in the opening set without dropping his own serve, as the world number five made a nervous start to his first grand slam final.

Fernandez - who only won his first singles match at a grand slam this week - became the first South American to reach a major final.

He came up against a relentless Kunieda, who continued to power through the match in the second set.

The 29-year-old looked full of confidence after winning his seventh Australian Open doubles crown with partner Stephane Houdet on Friday.

He was able to match that effort in the singles as his serve propelled him past 20-year-old Fernandez.

Kunieda served at 86 per cent for the match, winning 14 of 19 first serve points as he asserted authority on the contest in the opening set.

“I played good today, and I controlled my serve and the return, and was able to control the match,” Kunieda said.

Despite winning seven of the previous eight encounters between the pair, Kunieda entered the match with caution against the improving Fernandez.

“This was my best game, and I had confidence this time in my condition and body,” said Kunieda.

While the result was lopsided, Kunieda believes Fernandez will be better for the experience as he continues his progression.

“He can win someday in the future, he has very good potential and in two years I don’t know if he can beat me or not,” said Kunieda.

Kunieda continued his stranglehold of the season-opening grand slam, winning on every occasion from 2007 except when he missed the 2012 tournament.

“Every time I hope I can win down here as the first grand slam is important for all season,” said Kunieda of starting the season well in Australia.

With the singles and doubles in Australia ticked off the list, Kunieda now turns his attention to the rest of 2014.

“My goal is always to be world champion, and this was a good start for that,” said Kunieda.

For Fernandez, there is still much to learn. But after peaking at third in the world in 2013, the world number five looks capable of improving even further.

Meanwhile, Sabine Ellerbrock recovered from a one-set deficit to defeat Yui Kamiji 3-6 6-4 6-2 in the women’s wheelchair singles final.

In her first grand slam final, Kamiji made a positive start against the world number two, as the German only managed to hold one service game in the first set.

The number one seed recovered, getting stronger on serve, as 19-year-old Kamiji struggled to match her experienced opponent.

It was Ellerbrock’s first Australian Open title, after finishing runner-up to injured world number one Aniek van Koot in last year’s event.

In the quads wheelchair singles final, Lucas Sithole looked to spring an upset on number one seed David Wagner after taking the first set.

American Wagner recovered to take a tight second set against the South African before going on to overturn the result of last year’s US Open Final, winning 3-6 7-5 6-3.

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Post-Tournament
Thursday, 24 April 2014
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