Taylor, Wagner advance to
quad final at Doubles Masters
Victoria Chiesa | November 4, 2021
Coming into Thursday's play at the UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters, Nick Taylor knew what was required to extend his career by a few more days. An 11-time champion at the event with partner David Wagner, Taylor announced that this week's tournament at the USTA National Campus would be the last of his two-plus decade career, and thanks to a 6-0, 6-4 win against Kyu Seung-kim and Koji Sugeno to close out round-robin play, the American duo will play for another title.
With Brits Antony Cotterill and Andy Lapthornelosing to Sam Schroder and Niels Vink of the Netherlands earlier in the day by a 6-0, 6-0 scoreline, all three teams behind the Dutch in the round-robin group finished with a 1-2 record. However, with Taylor and Wagner nabbing a set against the Brits in a three-set defeat on Tuesday, and all the other matches in the group finishing in straight sets, the Americans snuck through on sets won to a 15th all-time berth in the championship match.ADVERTISEMENT
“The way my brain works, I knew [the qualification scenario]," Taylor said. "I analyze everything, and in the middle of the afternoon yesterday, I actually had a bit of a happy epiphany as I originally thought we had to win in straight sets, and then I thought, even if we did that, it was still going to be tied between us and Kim and Kojo, and then it was going to come down to games, so I was like, ‘We have to win 6-0 6-1,' or something like that.
“Then, last night at dinner, I realized that all we had to do was win in straight sets and then we had them [Kim and Sugeno] by one set. I didn’t want to tell David over text last night, so I told him this morning. I did confirm that with the referee four times before I did any post-match interviews that we are in the final, but we are."
Taylor and Wagner needed five match points to seal victory against the 2019 tournament finalists, as they were unable to convert a 40-0 lead with Wagner serving at 6-0, 5-3. However, a strong return game against Sugeno earned them two more chances to win, and Japan's top quad player obliged them on the fifth by serving a double fault.
"My motto in my head all day was ‘One more, just one more,’ and I got a little bit nervous in the second set that we were going to give up a set. I knew we could win the match, but I was afraid we would give up a set," Taylor said. "But David played unreal, I was very happy with how I played and we did what we had to do.”
In order to lengthen their championship resume an even dozen and extend the all-time record for titles won at the event, Taylor and Wagner will have to pull off another upset. The pair were beaten by Schroder and Vink in the group, 6-1, 6-0, and Taylor recognized that they'll again be underdogs against the Tokyo Paralympic gold medalists in the final.
"There's only one way to go into it, and that's with absolutely nothing to lose and to swing for the fences. That's what we're going to have to do," Taylor said. "We're going to have to sit down with our coaches for a while to figure out something to do to hurt them, because in the first round of the round-robin, we had nothing to hurt them with. We'll have to find ways, pull on all the years of experiences between the two of us to figure something out.."
In other semifinal action, American Dana Mathewson and her British partner Lucy Shuker were beaten in the final four of the women's event by top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot, 6-1, 6-2. Mathewson's singles campaign also concluded with a 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-3 loss to Japan's Momoko Ohtani in her final round-robin match, with all three of her solo matches this week going three sets. Wagner will also play in the quad singles semifinals on Friday against No. 2 seed Niels Vink of the Netherlands.
The NEC Wheelchair Singles Masters and UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters, featuring the world's eight best singles players and 18 doubles teams across the men's, women's and quad fields, runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 7 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. For more information on the event, visit the tournament hub here.
Photo: Nick Taylor and David Wagner in action during the NEC Wheelchair Singles Masters at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. Photo credit: Gary Pasqualicchio/USTA.