Great Britain’s Peter Norfolk and Andrew Lapthorne have both secured places at the Australian Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships at Melbourne Park in January, the first Grand Slam of 2012.
The world’s top three ranked quad players automatically gain entry for the tournament along with one wild card, meaning world No. 2 Norfolk and world No. 4 Lapthorne will have a high profile start to London 2012 Paralympic year, with the Australian Open coming at the end of a busy month Down Under for many of the players on the Tennis Foundation's Wheelchair Tennis Performance Programme.
Norfolk and Lapthorne will be looking to defend their quad doubles title after becoming the first all-British pairing to win a Grand Slam wheelchair tennis title at the Australian Open in January 2011, when they beat two-time Paralympic champions Nick Taylor and David Wagner from the USA in the final.
Four-time Australian Open champion Norfolk, who has won the quad singles title twice since the Australian Wheelchair Tennis Open took on Grand Slam status in 2009, finished runner-up to Wagner in the quad singles in 2011. Meanwhile, Lapthorne made his Grand Slam debut at Melbourne Park this year, defeating Taylor for the first time in his career in the round-robin phase of the competition.
Head of Player Performance for the Tennis Foundation Geraint Richards said: “Andy’s wildcard is fully deserved after he enjoyed such a successful season in 2011 and I’m sure he and Peter can use the Australian Open to kick start such an important year.
“Andy made his debut at the event last year and Pete has plenty of Australian Opens under his belt so they’ll both know what to expect and can be very confident going into the tournament.”
Lapthorne added: “I’m really looking forward to competing in Melbourne again and I’m the middle of some serious training at the moment before I fly out there in January. I want to be the best prepared I can be for next year and I’m feeling in good shape at the moment.”