Roland Garros: Stars set for historic event

Top players aim to complete set of all four major titles

male wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott holds up a silver trophy and smiles Dylan Alcott celebrated Australia Day by winning the Australian Open title in front of his home fans © • Takeo Tanuma

No player has completed the set of all four major titles since the advent of wheelchair tennis men’s and women’s singles events at Wimbledon in 2016, But that could change at the Roland Garros from Thursday.

Gustavo Fernandez, Diede de Groot and Dylan Alcott will hope to move a step closer to making history, as 20 of the world’s leading wheelchair tennis players will be on the Paris clay.

January’s Australian Open champions are among a star-studded line-up, which will see the coronation of the inaugural Roland Garros quad singles and doubles champions.

The quad singles draw marks a departure from the format used at the Australian Open and the US Open, where three days of round-robin singles matches precede the final. At Roland Garros, the draw will be a knockout.

Quads world No. 1 Alcott and world No. 2 David Wagner are no strangers to Grand Slam success, having won multiple titles. Joining will be two Grand Slam debutants, Japan’s current world No. 3 Koji Sugeno and Brazil’s world No. 8 Ymanitu Silva.

Wild card Silva will be the first Brazilian wheelchair player to contest a Grand Slam.

No fewer than six of the eight players lining up for the men’s singles have Grand Slam-winning form.

Men’s singles showdown

Australian Open champion world No. 2 Fernandez is one of four players to have previously triumphed on the clay, along with Japan’s world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda, Great Britain’s Alfie Hewett and France’s Stephane Houdet.

After winning his seventh Roland Garros singles trophy last year, Kunieda demonstrated that he is in fine-form ahead of his defence when winning the Open d’Amiens title on Saturday, following three straight sets wins.

Women’s singles history on the line

The Roland Garros title remains the only major to have so far eluded women’s world No. 1 Diede de Groot. The Dutchwoman looked to be well on her way to victory in the 2018 final before Japan’s Yui Kamiji won 12 of the last 14 games.

While the world’s top two players could yet meet again in Saturday’s final, Kamiji has the most recent winning form on clay after beating Aniek van Koot in the finals in Amiens over the weekend.

Three-time Roland Garros champion Kamiji is among three former winners in this year’s women’s singles field along with Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock and Netherlands’ Marjolein Buis.

Should form in Paris this week work out, according to current world rankings, de Groot and Kamiji would contest their sixth Grand Slam final over the course of the last seven majors.