Kunieda finally gets wheelchair singles title at Wimbledon

PA via AP
Shingo Kunieda of Japan celebrates after beating Britain’s Alfie Hewett to win the final of the men’s wheelchair singles on day fourteen of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London on Sunday.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — The Wimbledon title kept eluding Shingo Kunieda, so he turned to Roger Federer for advice on how to play on grass.

That did the trick.

Kunieda won his first Wimbledon title in wheelchair singles on Sunday and his 28th Grand Slam singles title overall. It was his fourth straight major singles title and finally allowed him to complete a career Grand Slam.

My question was how to play on grass and how to think when behind, yeah, on grass, Kunieda said of his conversation with Federer, an eight-time champion at the All England Club. “He said, ‘Yeah, you should attack every point. If you (make a) mistake, no regret. That’s the key, yeah,’ he said.”

The 38-year-old Japanese player defeated Alfie Hewett of Britain 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-5) on No. 3 Court, a day after he and partner Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina won the doubles title.

Kunieda had only reached one Wimbledon singles final in four previous appearances, finishing as runner-up in 2019.

He is the first men’s wheelchair player to complete a career Grand Slam, and now holds all four major titles at the same time after winning this year’s Australian Open and French Open, as well as last year’s U.S. Open.

I think this title is very hardest one because of grass, Kunieda said. “But this year I could find the way to play on the grass. So now I can say I can play well on grass.”

Hewett was looking for his sixth Grand Slam title and first at Wimbledon. He also lost in the final to Kunieda at last year’s U.S. Open and this year’s Australian Open.

Overall, Kunieda has won 11 singles titles at the Australian Open, eight at the French Open and eight at the U.S. Open. He also has 22 Grand Slam doubles titles, including winning his fourth at Wimbledon on Saturday.

Really wanted to get this title, Kunieda said. “You know, my age, 38, so I was thinking it will be last chance today. Yes, I very happy about that.”