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Dylan Alcott moves closer to ‘golden slam’


By Ian Chadband in London
Source: AAP

Wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott’s quest to become the first man ever to complete a calendar year ‘golden slam’ of singles titles has got off to a sparkling start in the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

The 30-year-old Australian, who has already annexed the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and Paralympic quad singles titles this year, just needs the US crown to complete an extraordinary and unprecedented year’s work.

And the Melburnian, fresh from his gold medal-winning heroics in Tokyo, wasted no time in powering past his first hurdle in Friday’s quarter-finals, hammering US wildcard Bryan Barten 6-0 6-1 in just 41 minutes.

Alcott had also beaten the 47-year-old American during his gold medal-winning run at the Paralympics, losing only one game there too, and was in no mood to show any mercy as he collected a sixth straight win over his opponent.

Alcott, who is after his third US Open singles title and 15th major in total, will next be pitted against 40-year-old Japanese veteran Koji Sugeno, who defeated the effervescent Aussie’s old US rival David Wagner 6-4 4-6 6-4 in another last-eight clash.

It brought Alcott’s remarkable season’s singles record to 18 wins in 19 matches, with his only defeat coming against world No.2 Sam Schroder at the French Riviera Open.

Dutchman Schroder had been seen as the biggest threat to Alcott making history but he was shocked by his teenage compatriot Niels Vink 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in the quarters on Friday.

The 18-year-old Vink will be no pushover for Alcott, though, having pushed the Australian over three tough sets in the Tokyo semi-final, which ended with the pair embracing emotionally.

If Alcott lifts the trophy in New York on Sunday, he’ll be the first male tennis player ever to win every grand slam as well as the Paralympic or Olympic singles gold in the same season.

Steffi Graf achieved the feat in the women’s game as Seoul’s Olympic champion in 1988.

Alcott’s countryman and close teammate Heath Davidson, with whom he won silver in the quad wheelchair doubles in Tokyo, was knocked out 7-5 6-1 in his quarter-final by Britain’s Andy Lapthorne, who’ll next meet Vink.

Alcott and Davidson combined on Friday to reach the final of the US Open wheelchair doubles, beating Barten and Sugeno 6-0 6-4.

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