It certainly did not go easy, but the Dutch team Tom Egberink / Maikel Scheffers qualified for the semi-finals of the ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament last night. The duo, which wants to peak later this year at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, today competes against the French Stéphane Houdet / Nicolas Peifer for a place in the doubles final.
Egberink and Scheffers, the strongest Dutch couple for quite some time, had a tough job against the Belgian / Dutch duo Joachim Gerard / Ruben Spaargaren: 6-4 6-4. "We still miss rhythm," said Maikel Scheffers afterwards. "We hardly played any tournaments in the past year, so it is still a bit of a search."
Egberink and Scheffers are delighted to be able to compete with the world top in a strong international tournament this week. Egberink: "We train together every day at the Federation and our facilities are top notch, but to really improve, we have to play more games like here in Rotterdam Ahoy." Today a new test of strength awaits with Houdet and Peifer. Interesting detail: last year it was also the semi-finals in Rotterdam Ahoy, where the French triumphed in the super tiebreak. Scheffers: "We still have something to make up for. We've already beaten all the couples playing here, so it's possible. "
In addition, the Dutch are also looking ahead to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. If you look at the world rankings, you will quickly conclude that Egberink / Scheffers have a better chance of a medal in doubles than in singles. Yet that is not the whole story, says Scheffers. "That applies to me. Tom is younger than me, has made a lot of progress in the past period and can also make a serious shot at a medal in singles. And I can do some damage in singles, but I focus on especially on doubles, which is another reason why it is so important that we can measure ourselves here again with the strongest French and English wheelchair tennis players. ''
In singles, all four seeded players reached the semi-finals. What was remarkable, was the significant loss that veteran Stéphane Houdet, former winner of the tournament, suffered against Briton Gordon Reid. Afterwards, the very experienced Houdet (50) did not want to hear about the suggestion that he might be too old to measure up to the best of the world. "No, it's not my age, it just wasn't my day," said the Frenchman.
Argentina's tournament favorite Gustavo Fernandez did what was expected of him by beating his Spanish friend and training buddy Martin de la Puente in two sets. And Alfie Hewett, the British winner of the previous edition of the ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, had few problems with the Nicolas Peifer.
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