While every Grand Slam title is a milestone to cherish, a fourth straight Australian Open quad wheelchair doubles victory carried extra meaning for Australian duo Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson.

Their victory over Andy Lapthorne and David Wagner in a gruelling three-set final follows 20 years of friendship between the Australians, who first competed together in a regional junior event.

“I get to play tennis with one of my best mates. Not many people can say that. We don’t just hang out in tennis, we hang out in everyday life, too,” said Alcott.

“(We) have four Australian Open titles. Pretty awesome. Very proud of Heath, where he’s come from. To be able to do it at a time when not everybody is getting to do their jobs and things, we feel pretty lucky.”

There was also the context of a tremendous challenge from Lapthorne and Wagner, the British-American duo levelling with a second set victory and forcing the Australians to find their best tennis in a hard-fought tiebreaker.

Alcott and Davidson took an hour and 27 minutes to secure the 6-2 3-6 [10-7] victory in the fifth consecutive Australian Open final they contested against Lapthorne and Wagner.

“I felt like we both started really strong,” said Davidson. “Big props to Dyl’ for giving me a little bit of a pep talk and getting in my ear and getting me back on track for the match tie.

“Those boys played pretty well, picked up their level. I think that’s the third doubles final in a row that’s gone to a match tiebreaker against those two.”

Winning just five more points than Lapthorne and Wagner’s total 56, Alcott also noted the significance of eight deciding points throughout the match.

“We won all in the first one, they won all in the second one, which was close. We won the first set 24 to 21 points even though we won 6-2,” he said.

“Close match. Credit to them, they played really well.”

Last securing a win over Alcott and Davidson at Melbourne Park in the AO 2017 decider, Lapthorne and Wagner also noted the quality of the 2021 final.

“Another win, another massive battle and always a pleasure to play you guys,” said Lapthorne.

The Brit, whose high intensity complemented Wagner’s shot-making superbly throughout the final, thanked some special supporters in the trophy presentation.

Lapthorne has openly spoken of the mental challenges he’s faced amid the global pandemic and acknowledged his doctor and the many Australians who’d encouraged the trip to Melbourne.

“Like everyone in the world at the moment, I was struggling with some demons but it’s great to be back out here,” he commented.

“To all the Aussies really, that have sent me messages on social media. I’ve had so many asking me to come back, telling me to believe in myself. So thank you to you guys because you’ve made my life a lot easier over the last few months.”

Alcott was delighted to contest another major final against the 30-year-old, who he defeated to claim the singles gold medal in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

“A few of my friends saw he put up a post he was struggling, they got in touch, which is awesome.  He’s great for the sport,” he said of Lapthorne.

“I think he was talking about not coming here at one point.  I’m glad he did.  They almost beat us today.  It was a great match.”

There was added meaning for all players in even contesting Australian Open 2021, given the many uncertainties created by the global pandemic.

“We’re lucky to be here.  Really thankful for everyone that is allowing this to happen,” said Davidson.

Equally grateful to compete at his home Grand Slam, Alcott is taking the same attitude into another final tomorrow, the Melburnian vying for a seventh straight Australian Open singles title.

“We are so lucky to be playing tennis at the moment.  We aren’t taking that opportunity for granted.  I feel very grateful to be here,” Alcott reiterated.

“When you are grateful for the moment, I think you can relax.  Win, lose or draw, who cares? I’m just lucky to be here.”

By: Vivienne Christie / Tennis Australia
Posted: 16 February 2021
Image: @DylanAlcott via Instagram