Dylan Alcott now holds all four Grand Slam trophies after winning the inaugural quad singles title at Wimbledon on Saturday (13 July).
A day after combining with Andy Lapthorne (GBR) to win the doubles title, Alcott overwhelmed his teammate 6-0, 6-2 in 50 minutes on Court 12.
“I just played awesome,” Alcott said. “I was so solid, hitting winners. When I play like that it’s tough to beat.
“[When you] train, like when no one is there, you play way better. In big matches it’s hard to replicate that. I played the same as I play at home when I’m playing François [Vogelsberger, Alcott’s coach].
“I was just looking around thinking, we’re at Wimbledon. There was a full stadium at Wimbledon on grass watching. That was so cool, to go away [from home] and have a crowd like that.
“I think you could tell I had a pep in my step from the start.”
In addition to becoming the inaugural quad singles champion at the All England Club in London, the triumph sees Alcott notch several impressive milestones.
With his ninth Grand Slam singles trophy, he now holds all four major singles titles, winning the US Open in 2018 before scooping the Australian, French and Wimbledon crowns this year. It is a feat being referred to as the ‘Dylan Slam’.
He stretched his unbeaten 2019 record to 18 matches (12-0 in singles, 6-0 in doubles) and remains on track for the calendar-year Grand Slam.
Yet when these statistics were put to Alcott, he found even greater satisfaction in another achievement.
“I think the thing I’m most proud of is the way we’ve personally rebranded the sport to try and get a change of perception of what people have with a disability,” he said.
“I love winning the Slams because I love what it does for me. I love winning them, as well.
“[But] to be able to do a speech and see young kids get out there, see full stadiums, I guess I hate the word ‘inspire’, but to show not only young people with a disability what they can do, but mainly able-bodied people, what people with a disability can do, that’s what I’m most proud of.
“In Australia, people used to stare at me because I was in a wheelchair. Now they stare at you because you’re Dylan Alcott and know who you are. That’s like the coolest thing because they could not care that I’m in a wheelchair.”
However, when it came to his on-court accolades, one did rise above the others.
“The ‘Dylan Slam’ is cool, but no one cares as much unless you win the Grand Slam, which is all in one year,” he said.
“I put pressure on myself by saying at the Australian Open I want to win the Grand Slam. People might think I was stupid, but I was like, that’s what I want to do.
“That’s why I get out of bed every morning, been boxing, training, doing everything because I want to win that Rod Laver Grand Slam in a calendar year.
“One more to go, baby. Glad I didn’t drop the bottle here. See what happens.”
Wimbledon has proved to be a venue that brings out the best in the Alcott.
The Australian was superior to Lapthorne in every department. He served big – his speeds on several occasions approached 100mph on the serve clock – and he used his full repertoire of shots to win points. Flat, stinging backhands and heavy forehands were complemented by intelligent use of the drop shot, several successful trips to the net, delicate half-volleys and knifing slice backhand returns.
He raced ahead 6-0, 5-0, survived a minor wobble as Lapthorne briefly worked his way back into match, then celebrated wildly after a final winning volley.
“It was thick [the grass], hard to push,” said Alcott. “I work hard on my chair skills. That was proper grass court tennis. My coach François and I said, ‘This is very Dylan’.”
“To be able to manipulate the ball, keep it low. Also, I think variation is key on grass, same as able-bodied [tennis]. You slice one, the wheelchair comes in, heavy topspin, you have to go out.
“I’m lucky that I have kind of a full range of shots that I can play. I’m not just kind of spanking it around all the time.
“I didn’t realise it suited me that well.”
Alcott admitted that the inclusion of Roland Garros and Wimbledon into the quad wheelchair tennis calendar had reinvigorated him.
Previously, quad players had just two opportunities – the Australian and US Opens – to participate in Grand Slam tennis. And with the lofty goal of a calendar-year Grand Slam driving him, Alcott believes that this has brought out some of his best tennis.
“I don’t think I would be playing very well if we didn’t get into Roland Garros or Wimbledon,” he admitted.
“I’m back playing 2016 Rio tennis [Alcott won two gold medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games]. That’s because we stuck to the plan. That’s because we got in here and because we got into Roland Garros.
“You need things to get out of bed to do. I’m not the kind of guy to play 10 more years of tennis if I don’t want to get out of bed and do it. I have so much else going on.
“But right now, I’m loving getting out of bed and playing tennis.”
By Matt Trollope, Tennis Australia
Photo with thanks to Tennis Australia