After watching Andy Murray end his season as world No.1, his compatriot Gordon Reid knows he has the chance to end the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour as world No.1 if he can win the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters 2016 that starts in London on Wednesday (30 November).
“It has been an incredible season – one that has gone by in a bit of a flash. I’ve loved every minute so far and hopefully I can end it on a high in London. I know the world No.1 ranking is at stake,” says Reid.
Reid, the 25 year-old world No.2 from Helensburgh in Scotland is careful not to over-state his chances of wrestling the top spot from Stephane Houdet of France when the action gets underway at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“Right now I’m feeling pretty good and quite relaxed, though nothing is guaranteed when you are competing at the highest level. Expectations were high at Wimbledon where I did well (won the singles) and in Rio (Paralympic Games) I again played well (and took gold). If I go out and play strongly next week I’ve got a chance, but I know there are eight very strong world-class players in the mix so it will be very tough. I’ll definitely have to play my very best tennis if I’m to win it (the Masters).”
Left-hander Reid is one of five British players currently confirmed for the season ending Masters, with world No.7 Alfie Hewett (GB) making his debut in the men’s singles draw. In a tournament that will also feature the defending men’s champion, Joachim Gerard (Belgium), Reid knows he must be at his best. However, if drawn against current world No.1 Houdet, he believes he now has the game to match the 46 year-old Frenchman. Though Houdet has won 21 of their 33 encounters, Reid has recently won 7 of those matches.
“Yes, I think for me the gap is definitely closing (against Houdet),” said Reid. “He’s a great player but I think I’ve had the better of our exchanges over the past couple of years. I’m increasingly using good tactics against him, my game has improved a lot and I’m making it harder for him to exploit any weaknesses.”
With Hewett joining Reid in the men’s singles and fellow Brits Andy Lapthorne (quads), Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley (both women’s singles) also competing in London, Reid hopes the home support can inspire the players to emulate Murray’s feat. As Reid headed for his latest practice session, he added:
“Whether it’s Nottingham, the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters or Wimbledon, it’s brilliant playing in front of crowds that are closest to my home in Scotland. Last week you could see how the crowd got behind Andy Murray for his ATP World Tour Finals win. Hopefully, we can also get good crowds next week, with people coming to cheer on the British players and inspire us to a similar result! I really enjoy playing in front of home crowds and I’m looking forward to getting the matches started.”
In the women’s singles, world No.7 Diede de Groot (Netherlands) has signaled her form in advance of making her debut at the Masters by last week winning the women’s singles title at the ITF British Open in Bath. Jiske Griffioen (Netherlands) and David Wagner (USA), the respective women’s and quad Masters champions will also be competing in London, aiming to defend their titles at what is one of the most prestigious events on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
Tickets for the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters are available from as little as £1. For details visit www.wheelchairtennismasters.com
Photo courtesy of the Tennis Foundation