Alfie Hewett bows out to Kunieda in the men’s wheelchair singles final at Wimbledon

Alfie Hewett has accomplished most things in wheelchair tennis, but the Wimbledon singles title continues to elude him. The Briton, who pulled off a miraculous comeback in the semis, let slip a 5-2 lead in the deciding set on Sunday as he was beaten 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-5) by Shingo Kunieda. .

For Kunieda, 38, it was a win that means he has now completed the career grand slam of all four majors. A sports legend, he has now won 28 Grand Slam singles titles. “It was one of the toughest games of my career,” he said. “The mind is my greatest weapon. If I find myself late or in a difficult situation, I never give up. I say to myself: I can do it. I know what to do. This is [the] the only way.”

Up until this year, grass had always been Kunieda’s most difficult surface, with his second-place finish in 2019 being his closest to winning the title. It took a tip from eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, he said, to give him the keys. “My question was how to play on grass and how to think when falling behind on grass,” he said. “He said, you should attack every point. If you [make] mistakes, no regrets. That’s the key, he says. I tried to think if I [made a] error: oh, that’s OK. Then I approach the next point with aggression. It was the way to play on the grass.

For Hewett, this defeat will hurt. After failing to serve the second set, he led 5-2 in the third and had two more chances to close it, only for Kunieda to equalize at 5-5. He broke again to lead 6-5, but a fourth chance to win was begging and in the ensuing tie-break he was dominated by the big Japanese.

“It’s a tough loss to take,” he said. “I had chances in the second and third sets to serve him. Quite disappointed not to be up to the occasion. But I think a lot of credit goes to Shingo who put in tremendous effort to come back and not give up.

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