Norfolk’s Alfie Hewett is Wimbledon wheelchair doubles champion with Gordon Reid
- Credit: PA
Norfolk's Alfie Hewett has become a Wimbledon champion at just 18 years old, in dramatic fashion on the famous courts of the All England Club.
Partnering British number one Gordon Reid the Norwich-born star helped to beat top seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 4-6 6-1 7-6 (8-6) in today's men's wheelchair doubles final.
The British pair made a strong start to the match, breaking early to move 3-1 up, only for the experienced French pair to hit back by winning five consecutive games to surge 5-3 ahead.
Hewett, from Cantley near Acle, held his serve to end that frustrating losing streak and the Brits then had a break point to level the set at 5-5 but couldn't take the chance and Houdet, 27 years older than the City College Norwich student and looking for his fourth Wimbledon doubles title, powered his way to a hold of serve and take the opening set 6-4.
The enthralling encounter was watched by a packed crowd on court 17, in the shadow of Centre Court, with more spectators standing on the neighbouring court to get a view of the British duo going for Wimbledon glory.
Hewett started the second set with his adrenaline clearly pumping, smashing a forehand winner to ensure Reid held the opening game. The dominant Houdet was then broken in the fourth game and, just as in the first set, the Brits moved 3-1 up to set up an opportunity to take control of the set.
It looked like history was going to repeat itself when the French duo moved 40-15 ahead in the fifth game but Hewett and Reid survived two break points and the Scot held his serve to move 4-1 up in the second set.
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Another break saw Hewett on serve for the chance to seal the set and, having survived one break point, the former Acle High School pupil showed great spirit to pull out his first ace of the match on his second set point, on his second serve, to send the final to a deciding set.
Hewett held to love in the second game of the third set and the British duo then took a third break point to move 2-1 up, with a lovely drop shot from Hewett sealing the game to big cheers from an ever-growing crowd, perched at all angles to try and see the Brits going for glory.
That opened up the chance for Reid to serve for a 3-1 lead and the chance was taken, having survived two break points, with Hewett showing his power again with a thumping forehand to save the second and allow Reid to serve out.
Houdet raced to a rapid hold to love for 3-2 and carried on trying to dominate Hewett's service game, only for the Norfolk teen to prove he has plenty of spirit himself and hold with some powerful shot of his own to put the Brits 4-2 up and in control of the final.
Then came the crucial break of the match, with Hewett dominating proceedings with three big winners and a huge smile on his face, as the Brits moved 5-2 ahead and to the verge of victory.
The dramatic match was not over yet though, with the French breaking back to reduce the deficit to 5-3 and then holding serve to move to 5-4 and put Hewett on serve with a chance to seal the title.
There were more thrills to come though, as Houdet and Peifer broke again to win a third game in a row and tie up the final set at 5-5, with nerves seemingly getting the better of Hewett and Reid.
The French then survived two break points to win their fourth game in a row and move 6-5 ahead, leaving Reid to serve knowing he must hold to take the brilliant final to a tie-break.
Hewett's thunderous backhand set-up a hold opportunity at 40-30 and Peifer found the net as the Brits rediscovered their confidence and took the game to a tie-break - befitting of a marvellous final.
The tie-break again swayed from one pair to the other, with Reid serving for a 4-2 lead but Hewett eventually serving for a 6-4 lead and two championship points. Once again nerves bit back though and the French levelled at 6-6.
Hewett's superb return on Peifer's serve then set up the chance for Reid to serve for the title and Peifer could only find the net, sparking wild celebrations as the British duo shared a massive hug.
Speaking before being presented with their trophy, Hewett told BBC Sport: 'I'd like to say a big thank you to this guy (Reid) for keeping my head during that match, I think I got carried away in the moment in a few of the points near the end there, so this fella was very calm and cool with me and kept me level-headed and that's what got us through.
'It's unbelievable, seeing so many family and friends here, it's a special day, a really amazing feeling. I can't thank the crowd enough for all their support today.
'Coming from 5-2 up in that third set, to 6-5 down, you guys really did help pick us up.'
Reid, who now has to prepare for tomorrow's singles final, was asked how the closing stages of the dramatic encounter felt and said: 'Horrible,' with a smile. 'We didn't do it the easy way.
'First of all, a massive congratulations to Alfie, his first grand slam title and my first Wimbledon title here with him so a really special moment.
'Secondly, like Alfie said, the crowd really helped us come through that match in such a tight situation in that third set. There's so many people here, look at all the people standing up on the other court, it's so amazing to see so many people here enjoying wheelchair tennis.'