The scorching heat in Melbourne did not stop Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson from putting on a masterclass, as they defended their Australian Open doubles title overnight.

Reigning Paralympic champions in the quad class, the home-town favourites defied the 40 degree heat to thrill the home crowd by winning their straight-to-final match against Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne and the USA’s David Wagner, 6-3, 6-7, 12-10.

The one hour and 54 minute match was gruelling but the duo were not going to let their crown slip away. Lapthorne and Wagner had the upper hand at the start, winning the first two games of the match, but the Australians were lifted by an enthusiastic crowd.

The power shifted back to the international pair in the second set, but it in was the deciding set that Alcott and Davidson left nothing in the tank to take the match after 22 gruelling and enthralling games.

“They’re always tough for us. Wagner is an old veteran. Pokes it around and doesn’t give you what you want,” Alcott said.

“They hit a lot of balls to Heath today, which was awesome. He played so well.

“But we pride ourselves on playing ’til the last point. I pride myself on being level-headed the whole time and I think that really helped us.”

With just one double fault in comparison to Wagner and Lapthorne’s five, and a higher first serve percentage (81% to 75%), Alcott showed why he has recently regained his number one world ranking, while Davidson proved that he is one to watch as the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games edge closer.

Despite their individual skill sets, both athletes credited their friendship on and off the court, as well as the home crowd, for their win today.

“We’re mates off court. I think that’s why our chemistry is so good on court,” Davidson said.

Alcott jumped in, supporting his double partner and best mate’s comment:

“You can tell, we’re always smiling, we don’t yell at each other. We’re a good pair.”

“I’ll tell you the one thing that really helped us was the massive crowd. As I said a few years ago, we’re used to playing in front of a handful of people. After the Paralympics, the Newcombe Medal, broadcasters, all that kind of stuff, people come down and watch now, and that’s so cool.”

The win today was not the first for either Alcott or Davidson, with both winning their singles matches against Wagner and Lapthorne respectively.

Davidson impressed defeating world number three Lapthorne in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, and Alcott got a set up on Wagner, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 in a two hour and 16 minute match.

The Australian pair are ready to celebrate a combined nine grand slam victories. Both will prepare for their final round-robin singles matches today (January 25), with Davidson fighting for a spot in the final against Alcott, who is so far undefeated.

By Sascha Ryner, APC Media
Posted: 25/01/2019

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