If there was any man capable of beating defending men's wheelchair singles champion Shingo Kunieda, it was Stephane Houdet. The Frenchman was the first player to beat Kunieda and end his three-year, 106-match winning streak in November 2010. And Houdet was one set away from claiming the US Open title as his own.
But after falling a set down, Kunieda went on a 12-1 run to take the final two sets and claim his fifth US Open crown 3-6, 6-1, 6-0. Kunieda, his cap slightly cocked to one side a la Donald Young, made solid returns of serve down the line to come back and gain the upper hand on Houdet. Another key to his success was his ability to anticipate the ball exceptionally well, often putting himself in position before the ball had even crossed the net.
After Houdet broke Kunieda's serve in the fifth game of the first set for 3-2, he stretched his advantage to 5-3, then again broke Kunieda to take the first frame.
But after settling down at the start of the second set, Kunieda was back in top form, and raced to a 4-0 lead before Houdet was able to hold serve and get on the board. Kunieda wouldn't drop another game after that. A final break on Houdet's serve in the seventh game leveled the match at a set apiece.
Kunieda continued his run to cap a 12-1 game streak to put away the final set and celebrate his fifth-straight US Open championship in men's wheelchair singles. Kunieda has never lost here at the US Open since winning his first Grand Slam title at the 2007 event at the age of 23.
Both Kunieda and Houdet entered the final having dropped five and six games each, respectively. Houdet eliminated the No. 2 seed en route to the final, and he had success in yesterday's doubles final, winning the title with Nicolas Peifer.
|Shingo Kunieda JPN (1)||3||6||6|
|Stephane Houdet FRA||6||1||0|