Koldo Navarro lost the first set but in the second he rolled down a more gentle hill than conventional wheelchair tennis players.
“You have to be patient and not give him any easy points,” Navarro said at a press conference in Paris after defeating Dieu de Groot in a five-set quarterfinal to reach the final.
De Groot’s rally started from the middle of the net, then he sprinted from the front of the court up the inside and down the middle to return serving. He broke Navarro’s serve in the second game of the second set with a 14-shot rally, but a slow start by both players made the most of Navarro’s comfort in the tiebreaker.
“He was a big fan of his favorite sports and he loved sports with big celebrations,” Navarro said. “That made it easy for him to get fit.”
Navarro now gets a chance at “playing for the Golden Slam” — the Golden Slam is the Grand Slam of every major wheelchair sport. Navarro has a chance to tie his compatriot David Wagner’s record of six Grand Slam wins.
“Now I have to be more consistent. The win is not easy, especially when we know the condition that he has and the length of the rallies,” Navarro said. “The conditions for the semis are totally different from last Thursday.”
De Groot’s only grand slam was last year’s wheelchair singles at Wimbledon.
“I’m very happy. I always train for these kinds of matches,” he said. “This was an unbelievable win. He is a top player. This is one of the best matches I’ve ever played.”
De Groot will play World No. 1 Nicolas Peifer of France in the semifinals.
Nick Gilbert, the doubles player from Australia, nearly completed the golden slam this month. He reached the semifinals of the men’s doubles in the French Open with Peifer, but the draw was messed up and his opponents were unable to play their match because of the bad weather.
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