Tuesday 27 September 2016

Britain's Gordon Reid claims thrilling victory in Melbourne to claim his first grand slam crown

Tom Allnutt

Published 30/01/2016 | 14:59

Gordon Reid of Great Britain celebrates winning his Men's Wheelchair Singles Final match against Joachim Gerard of Belgium during the Australian Open 2016 Wheelchair Championships at Melbourne Park
Gordon Reid of Great Britain celebrates winning his Men's Wheelchair Singles Final match against Joachim Gerard of Belgium during the Australian Open 2016 Wheelchair Championships at Melbourne Park

Britain's Gordon Reid secured his first grand slam singles title by edging out Belgium's Joachim Gerard in the wheelchair final of the Australian Open.

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But the 24-year-old Scot admitted exhaustion took hold as he later failed to add the doubles crown in a three-set defeat alongside Japanese partner Shingo Kunieda.

Playing the first singles final of his career, Reid showed no signs of nerves as he overcame Gerard 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 to be crowned champion in Melbourne.

One and a half hours later, Reid returned to court with Kunieda but the pair went down 6-3 3-6 7-5 against French pair Stephane Houdel and Nicolas Peifer.

Reid said: "I've won my first singles grand slam and that's a huge one. It would have been nice to get the double but you can't win them all.

"I had about an hour and a half between so the scheduling wasn't great. I've played a lot of tennis this week and the singles final today was exhausting physically and emotionally."

Reid revealed his singles win had been made all the sweeter as the friend that sat by his side 12 years ago, when his disease took hold, was there watching on in the crowd.

Reid enjoyed the support of a vocal group of school friends, who had travelled down from Perth to watch, but one in particular - Gary Peak - carried special significance.

"Gary's literally been there the whole journey so it's amazing to have him here cheering me on," Reid said.

"He was there the day what happened happened. It was the Friday night. I stood up off my bed and my legs just gave way.

"The next day I woke up and was fine but then over the day I lost all feeling from the waist down and I had really bad pains.

"Gary was the one sitting with me all day as it happened, keeping me company. He was there until the ambulance took me away to the hospital.

"I didn't even really think about that but it's pretty special to have him here. I gave him a big hug afterwards."

Reid contracted Transverse Myelitis - a disease affecting the spinal chord - aged 13 and wondered if he would ever be able to pick up a racket again.

"Winning a grand slam was never the goal when I started playing," Reid said.

"I just wanted to get back involved in sport and get active again. I never even dreamt... to be honest, I didn't even know wheelchair tennis existed.

"But as time went on I realised I could be quite good at this."

After completing victory in an hour and 37 minutes, Reid flung his racket into the sky before punching the air in celebration.

Davis Cup captain Leon Smith was also in the stands, as well as Reid's coach Karen Ross, who has worked with him for nine years.

The Alexandria-born Briton, who lives in Glasgow, arrives home on Tuesday and can expect a hero's welcome from his parents and two brothers and sister, who have all stayed up to watch his matches.

"Everybody is waiting for me. Everybody was setting their alarms for 2.30 in the morning back home," Reid said.

"They were all up watching it on the live player so my phone has just about blown up I think with all the messages.

"They've all booked their flights to Rio for the Paralympics in September so it's always amazing to have their support. It just makes everything a bit more special."

Reid has also struck up a rapport with Andy and Jamie Murray.

Jamie Murray won the men's doubles title with Bruno Soares after Reid had completed his two finals while Andy Murray will attempt to make it a Scottish treble on Sunday when he tackles Novak Djokovic in the men's singles final.

"It's great to have their support," Reid said. "I saw Andy and Jamie in the locker room just after my match and I got a big congratulations from them."

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