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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 July 2006, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Japanese dreams come true
By Elizabeth Hudson
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Satoshi Saida reaches for a shot
Saida stretches to reach a shot during the final
After a week to remember both on and off court, Shingo Kunieda and Satoshi Saida can return home to Japan happy.

The pair claimed French Open glory in Paris last weekend and then flew to London to take part in the Wimbledon wheelchair doubles event.

In their first tournament on grass, they emerged victorious over defending champions Jayant Mistry of Britain and Frenchman Michael Jeremiasz.

In front of a packed Court Three, the Japanese pair, who won Paralympic gold in Athens in 2004, claimed a 7-5 6-2 triumph.

It brings their tournament victories together to six this year but Saida, who is ranked number one in the world for doubles, admitted it was one of their hardest-fought successes.

Buckingham Palace
The Japanese pair took time out to visit Buckingham Palace

"Because we had never played on grass before this week it has been a bit difficult for us to adapt our game," he told BBC Sport.

"It is much harder to push your chair around the court on grass and our tactics rely a lot on movement. But we have got better the more we have practised this week.

"Wimbledon is such a world-famous tournament and we are delighted to have won here on our first time in London.

"As well as our practice, we also went to visit Buckingham Palace which was very enjoyable and I would love to come back and play again next year."

Kunieda, who is ranked second in the world for both doubles and singles, was also thrilled with the success.

This is a very special event

Shingo Kunieda

"This is right up there with winning Paralympic gold and also winning the Japan Open," he added.

"This is a very special event and we are both very happy and proud."

The win means Kunieda and Saida emulate the 1975 Ladies Doubles champion Kazuko Sawamatsu (Yoshida), vice-president of the tennis training centre in Kashiwa, where both players are based.

Sawamatsu partnered American Ann Kiyomura to victory over France's Francoise Durr and Betty Stove of the Netherlands 31 years ago.

Jayant Mistry, who was disappointed not to have retained his Wimbledon crown, paid tribute to the Japanese pair.

"I thought Shingo, in particular, played a superb match," he said.

"They nullified what we were trying to do on court with Michael's groundstrokes and did it well.

"But the crowd was great and really appreciated what we were trying to do. There were a lot of long rallies and there was a lot of court coverage and hopefully it all looked good."

SEE ALSO
Mistry & Jeremiasz lose in final
09 Jul 06 |  Disability Sport
Mistry & Jeremiasz reach decider
08 Jul 06 |  Disability Sport
Jeremiasz & Mistry bid for title
19 Jun 06 |  Disability Sport
Mistry claims Wimbledon success
03 Jul 05 |  Disability Sport


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