Alfie Hewett seals place in men’s wheelchair singles final at Rio Paralympics
- Credit: TENNIS FOUNDATION
Norfolk's Alfie Hewett has guaranteed himself at least two Paralympic silver medals in Rio, after winning the biggest singles match yet of his young career.
The 18-year-old has beaten world number two Joachim Gerard 7-5 6-3 in the singles semi-final, to seal his place in the gold-medal match.
Hewett made a slow start to the match and fell 3-1 behind to his Belgian opponent, only to bounce back and lead 5-4 with a chance to serve for the set.
Gerard broke back to level the set but Hewett surged again and had five break points on the Gerard serve before breaking to take the opening set 7-5.
His momentum carried him through the opening stages of the second set, racing into a 4-1 lead, before nerves started to creep in and Gerard pulled the set back to 4-3.
The former Acle High School pupil turned on the style again though to hold serve for 5-3 and then break for the match, throwing his arms back in celebration as he tried to fight back the tears.
He will now face his British doubles partner Gordon Reid in Friday's singles final, following their doubles final tomorrow, when they will take on Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer – the French pair they beat in the Wimbledon doubles final earlier this year.
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'Gordon and I both know each other very well, on the court, off the court, and it's going to be a tough match for both of us,' said Hewett, who is part of the Tennis Foundation Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme.
'It's tough knowing that only one of us is going to get the gold medal and knowing how hard we've trained together as individuals as well. I'm just going to go into that match with a blank mind against who I'm playing.
'I've always had that belief in myself. I've got the ability to beat anyone and I'm going to go into the final with the same mentality.
'The occasion can bring the best out of people. I've always known that I can perform under pressure and I can perform on that big kind of stage.'