It was green and gold all the way at Rod Laver Arena tonight, as the newly crowned Australian Open quad doubles champions Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson turned from teammates to rivals in the final round robin match of the Australian Open quad singles tournament.
With a spot in tomorrow’s final on offer, Alcott, the reigning title holder, ultimately prevailed in a two set victory (6-2, 6-0) in front of the 10,000-strong crowd.
Both were thrilled with the unexpected opportunity to compete in front of a home fan base on Centre Court which was also broadcast live on the Seven Network, after their match was delayed and then moved from Showcourt 7 due to rainy weather conditions.
“I mean, you work for those opportunities,” Alcott said.
“I’ve worked for that opportunity my whole life that I promote what we do and I’m proud of it, and it’s contagious. If I’m proud of wheelchair tennis and being disabled, well then, Craig (Tilley, Australian Open tournament director) is proud of it, then Tennis Australia is proud of it and then the Australian Open is proud of it.
“And then with Seven. 10 years ago, if you paid them a million dollars, they wouldn’t have done that. And now they’re choosing to do it, and that’s because you work for that. By us becoming elite, getting fit, training, competing… all of us wheelchair and disabled athletes.
“I thought Heath was going to vomit in the change room (when we found out)! I played there before, last year, which I think was a bit of an advantage for me, but it was amazing to see the crowd staying (after Federer and Chung’s match) – Eric Bana, Mark Webber, Adam Goodes stayed. I mean, they all loved it, and what a great opportunity to showcase wheelchair tennis.
“10,000 people were there at the start. Like, turn it up, that’s awesome.”
While Davidson has never before played in front of an audience so big on home soil, he too was excited by the opportunity and proud to compete in a tough game against his best friend.
“It was slightly nerve-wracking considering that’s the first time I’ve ever hit on RLA (Rod Laver Arena) but it was awesome. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to go there,” he said.
“Losing to Dylan, it’s just one of those things. He’s a bloody great tennis player and he figured out early what he needed to do. Congratulations to one of my best mates, and I’m hoping we’re going to have many more battles to come.”
Agreeing with the quality of competition, Alcott admitted the match was nowhere near in his favour to begin with.
“I thought Heath was going to win there nearly. I was like ‘he’s playing so good, why is he playing good? Isn’t he nervous?’”
“Then I got nervous, then I calmed down. Heath was caning it.”
Alcott will now compete against world number one David Wagner in tomorrow’s final as he chases his fourth singles grand slam title and his second title of this year’s Australian Open.
“I’d rather play Heath to be honest because he’s one of my best mates, but Wags is a true champion, it will be good to see what happens.”
The match will be broadcast live from Rod Laver Arena on the Seven Network and via the 7Tennis App after 1pm AEDT.
By APC Media