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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Roland Garros and the wheel-chair event at French Open

The French Open Tennis tournament is drawing to a close at Roland garros.  Apart from the 128 draw Men’s Singles, there were Men’s doubles, Mixed doubles, Women – Singles & doubles, Legend’s doubles, Boys singles & doubles; Girls singles & doubles, Men’s legend over 45, Women’s Legends – so many matches – but there was this particular match which deserves special mention – more of it later.

Rafa – Rafael Nadal moved to within one win of Nicolas Bjorn Borg’s record of six titles at Roland Garros with a  convincing 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 semifinal win over a battling Andy Murray.  The other semi was even more closely fought -  fans were treated to one of the all-time great French Open semi-finals. It ended with Roger Federer triumphing over Novak Djokovic 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) in three hours 39 minutes.

Now it would be  Swiss third seed  Roger Federer meeting  world no.1 and five-time champion Rafael Nadal in tomorrow’s final [5th June 2011].  This win brought an end to Novak Djokovic’s 41-match unbeaten run this season. 

In the Women it is going to be Chinese challenge of Li Na against  Francesca Schiavone.  The Chinese woman advanced to her second major final defeating the beauty Maria Sharapova.  Li broke Sharapova’s opening service game of the match for a 2-0 lead, and allowed her opponent to get just one game on the board in the first five.  The second set was close but her caution and double faults presented another easy win for Li Na, who was cheered by  the crowd to a  6-4, 7-5 win.  Her opponent now in the finals -  Francesca Schiavone brushed aside Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-3 to secure a second straight appearance in the French Open final. The final would be held today..

At  Suzanne Lenglen court, the Czech Republic’s Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova won their first Grand Slam title this year by defeating Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina (no.7) 6-4, 6-3 in the women’s doubles final.

There are 16 special players – special because they play their game on the wheel chairs.  Roland Garros also hosted  the second wheelchair tennis event of 2009 to have the new Grand Slam tournament status.
Seven of the world’s top eight men and all eight of the world’s top women played in Paris, with seven players in each of the men’s and women’s events selected by direct entry, based on world ranking. One wild card place was awarded for the men’s event and one wild card place is awarded for the women’s event. 

The  world No. 10 Nicolas Peifer was awarded the wild card for the men’s event, joining his compatriots Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz to give the host nation three representatives in the field. World No. 8 Annick Sevenans (BEL) was the wild card entry in the women’s singles.

This is a form of tennis adopted for those with  disabilities in their lower bodies. The size of courts, balls, and rackets are same, but there are two major differences from pedestrian tennis; they use specially designed wheelchairs and the ball may bounce up to two times. The second bounce may also occur outside of the field.  This is one of the official Paralympic sports and also played at Grand Slams.
 
Nicolas peifer
Wheelchair tennis got started in 1976 thanks to the efforts of Brad Parks who is effectively the creator of competitive wheelchair tennis. Since then, a lot of effort has been put into the promotion of the sport in order to get rid of the therapy image that still clings to many sports for people with disabilities today. The sport became popular and grew worldwide so fast that it was introduced to Paralympic games for the first time at the 1988 Summer Paralympics in Seoul as a  demonstration event.  

St├ęphane Houdet and Shingo Kunieda were the defending champions, however Houdet chose to partner with Michael Jeremiasz this year, while Kunieda teamed up with Nicolas Peifer. They met in the semifinals and Kunieda/Peifer defeated Houdet/Jeremiasz 1–6, 6–2, [10–7]. Kunieda and Peifer won the title, defeating Robin Ammerlaan and Stefan Olsson 6–2, 6–3 in the final.

Shingo Kunieda and Nicolas peifer
In the singles event - Shingo Kunieda was the defending champion, but he lost in the semifinals to Maikel Scheffers. Two days later, the Dutch player defeated Nicolas Peifer in the final 7–6(7–3), 6–3.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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