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Tennis From U.S. Open Wheelchair Semi-Final • Hewett, Kunieda In Final • Ladies Singles Final On Tap

The No. 2 seed Alfie Hewett.

By Ricky Dimon

The No. 2 seed in the U.S. Open men’s singles competition may have advanced to the final, but the No. 2 seed in the men’s wheelchair singles event was not as fortunate. Gustavo Fernandez, ranked second in the world, lost to Alfie Hewett 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 during semifinal action on Friday.

Hewett will now bid for a third U.S. Open title when he faces No. 1 Shingo Kunieda on Sunday. Kunieda, who beat Hewett in the 2018 U.S. Open title match, was a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 winner over Joachim Gerard. The 36-year-old from Japan is a 24-time Grand Slam champion, with six of those triumphs coming in New York.

No. 1 Shingo Kunieda.

Hewett will also play in the doubles final on Saturday.

“I definitely feel confidence when I come here,” the Brit said of Flushing Meadows. “I’ve only lost one match in four years here. Obviously there’s something in New York that just clicks with me and, maybe now, anything that’s not a winner’s trophy is a disappointment.”

“I was pretty down after the second set (in my semifinal match),” he continued. “Gustavo played some amazing tennis in the second and I couldn’t really find my rhythm.  I just felt like I got really quiet on the court and my aggression seemed to have gone, so I had to tell myself to take a step up the court and be loud. I just need to play my game, no matter who I’m playing (in the final) and come on court with the same aggression and intensity.”

Hewett’s doubles match precedes the women’s singles final in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday. That features Naomi Osaka against Victoria Azarenka in a rematch of what was supposed to be the Cincinnati title tilt–which did not happen because Osaka withdrew citing a hamstring injury.

There are no such physical problems now, and both women have been incredible in the bubble. Osaka is coming off a three-set semifinal victory over a red-hot Jennifer Brady, while Azarenka battled past Serena Williams 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Victoria Azarenka is very excited for the final against Naomi Osaka.

“Very excited about [the final],” the Belarusian assured. “I’m as excited as I was [two weeks ago]. I’m sure this time we’re going to get to play and it’s going to be a great match. I think it’s going to be an amazing final. I hope it will be. I’ll have fun.

“But [Osaka is] a very, very powerful player. She’s a great champion. She’s won two already. Aren’t we both looking for a third one? It will be fun.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.