CM – Going for Gold: Wheelchair stars can make history at the US Open

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After Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot had already won the three big titles on the tennis tour and gold in Tokyo this year, they came into position for the Golden Slam at the US Open.

Published: 09 September 2021 12:27 |

Last updated: September 09, 2021 12:27 PM

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Diede De Groot trains at the Bille Jean King National Tennis Center during the US Open Tennis Championships, Wednesday, September 8, 2021, in New York. (Photo | AP)

NEW YORK: Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot have a chance at tennis history that Novak Djokovic can no longer make.

In contrast to Djokovic, the wheelchair stars both won gold medals in Tokyo. After winning the three big titles on the tennis tour this year, they were in position for the Golden Slam at the US Open.

« I know that sounds strange, but I no longer have any expectations of myself to win everything, « said Alcott.

 » If I win everything, great. If I don’t, the sun will rise tomorrow. I think my girlfriend will still love me, my family won’t deny me So I’ll be fine. So I want to do it, but I don’t think about it that much. « 

The Australian is number 1 in the eight-man wheelchair quad division. De Groot from the Netherlands is at the top of the women’s individual tournament.

Your biggest challenge could be fatigue. The Paralympics just ended at the weekend before the players had to make their way to New York.

“On Saturday it was the gold medal game. Then drank about 20 beers and took a flight at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, « said Alcott.

In 1988 Steffi Graf was the only player to win the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and a gold medal in the same year. A Golden Slam wasn’t even possible for wheelchair users until recently as Wimbledon only added wheelchair singles in 2016.

« I think it’s more of a thing that the media and the people around me are very busy with , and I’m just trying to concentrate on my game, « said de Groot.

Djokovic still has a chance at the first Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969 in the calendar year, but his hopes for Golden Slam were lost when Alexander Zverev beat him in the Olympic semifinals.

Alcott and de Groot say they wanted Djokovic to do it, but they learned something when he didn’t.

« I think if you follow him , you can also see his fight, see how he is only human and not a robot, « said de Groot. « And I think his performance showed that it is not a given that you just keep winning, and I think I really took that away with me when I went into my own games. »

Alcott is with the Chance of a calendar year Grand Slam coming to New York only to miss. Djokovic’s fall in Tokyo was another reminder not to look too far ahead.

« I saw him lose and thought maybe he thought about it and that pressure could add to that « said Alcott. « So I said, ‘I’m not going to think about it. » « 

Alcott is near the end of an outstanding sports career. The 30-year-old was born with a tumor wrapped around his spinal cord – surgery removed it, but he remained paraplegic – the 30-year-old won a Paralympic gold medal in basketball in 2008 before switching to tennis.

In addition to radio and television work he’s already doing, he’d like to devote himself to acting and spend more time on his Dylan Alcott Foundation, which helps young, disabled Australians.

« So I love tennis, but it’s not the be-all and end-all my life, « said Alcott.

The 24-year-old de Groot, whose right leg is shorter than her left, made wheelchair history in 2019 when she became the first woman to hold all four individual Grand Slam titles.

While the Paralympics have always been a priority, she said that the Grand Slam tournaments are becoming more important for wheelchair players.

« For me at the moment if I only play one tournament, it’s so much better than last year when al les was canceled, « she said. “Well, I think I’m just enjoying everything at the moment.”

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