TENNIS |  Yui Kamiji, Momoko Ohtani Make History With Clash in French Open Wheelchair Final

 

Updated on Monday, October 12.

 

Yui Kamiji and Momoko Ohtani met in the French Open women’s wheelchair singles final on Friday, October 9, making history in the process.

 

Their encounter marked the first time that two Japanese competed in a Grand Slam singles final.

 

Kamiji, a dominant force in wheelchair tennis, cruised past Ohtani 6-2, 6-1, winning her fourth French Open title.

 

“I still can’t believe two Japanese women were in the final of a Grand Slam. I was so excited last night. It’s a dream,” the 26-year-old from Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, told reporters in Paris. “I hope at the [Tokyo] Paralympics next year this can happen again.”

 

Yui Kamiji previously won French Open women’s singles wheelchair titles in 2014, 2017 and 2018.

 

For Kamiji, the victory produced another landmark achievement in her distinguished career after earning French Open titles in 2014, 2017 and 2018, and finishing runner-up to Diede de Groot, the current world No. 1, in last year’s final at Roland Garros. 

 

Ohtani, who made her Grand Slam debut at the U.S. Open in September, upset de Groot in the semifinals to book a spot in the title match against her compatriot.

 

“I was happy with my performance today,” the 35-year-old Ohtani said, according to the International Tennis Federation.

 

“In Japan we couldn’t practice for two, three months,” added the Tochigi Prefecture native, “and when we came back to train we had more time to practice because we had no tournaments. I tried to do new things with my tennis, and also with my wheelchair. I watched videos of my games against other players, and it really worked.”

 

Yui Kamiji is the No. 2 ranked women’s singles wheelchair player in the world.

 

Kamiji delivered a strong, consistent performance en route to victory in 57 minutes over Ohtani, who’s ranked 10th in the world.

 

The finale was a snapshot of Kamiji’s overall effort in the tournament, at which she only lost one set (in the first round).

 

Yui Kamiji has won four French Open women’s wheelchair singles titles.

 

Indeed, it pleased Kamiji, whose success on clay is one of the hallmarks of her career.

 

“My first Grand Slam title was here, and I’ve won more titles here than anywhere else,” Kamiji commented after receiving her latest trophy. “And I’m very happy to have my second Grand Slam title for this year. And I’m also very happy to have a final against someone from the same country.”

 

After beating Ohtani, Kamiji returned to action in the women’s doubles final with partner Jordanne Whiley of Great Britain on Saturday, October 10.

 

Dutch duo de Groot and Aniek Van Knoot defeated Kamiji and Whiley 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 10-8.

 

Kamiji and Whiley secured a spot in the title match after ousting Marjolein Buis and Charlotte Famin 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals.

 

 

 RELATED READING: [ODDS and EVENS] New book ‘Wheels of Courage’ Explores History of Wheelchair Basketball and Paralympics

 

Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays,  in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @itsjapanforward.

Ed Odeven

Author:

Ed Odeven is a longtime sports journalist who previously worked for The Japan Times as its chief basketball reporter for nearly 14 years. He also covered a wide range of other sports for the newspaper, including at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games. A graduate of Arizona State University, Odeven worked for several newspapers in the Grand Canyon State before moving to Japan. He has freelanced for dozens of media outlets around the world.

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