Peter Norfolk’s hopes of striking gold at his third successive Paralympic Games ended with a Quad Doubles defeat partnering Andy Lapthorne on Eton Manor’s centre court on Wednesday.
Norfolk, nicknamed the Quadfather, won Quad Singles golds both at Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008 – the only Games to feature Quad Wheelchair Tennis competitions.
His hopes of completing a Quad Singles hat-trick were dashed when he made a quarter-final exit on Tuesday. But he could still have made it three gold medals at successive Games with victory in the Doubles.
Norfolk and Lapthorne were seeded one for the tournament, but their opponents, Nicholas Taylor and David Wagner, had their own golden hat-trick in mind – they had collected both Paralympic Games Quad Doubles titles contested to date.
The British pair got off to a nervous start, losing Norfolk’s opening service game, despite a couple of aces. The Americans then held their serve to go 2-0 up.
The Americans again took the initiative in Lapthorne’s opening service game, but the British pair battled back to win their first game of the final. Their success was short-lived however, as the USA won the next game and went on to the take the set 6-2.
The US pair started the second set brightly and were soon 3-1 ahead, but the British pair battled back, and with Norfolk finding his volleying game, they got back on to level terms at 4-4.
A half-volley drop shot from Norfolk took the scores to 5-4 and the Britons captured the second set 7-5 with a deep forehand that Wagner could not return.
But as the final approached the two-hour mark, it was the defending champions who finished stronger.
Taylor and Wagner opened up a 4-2 lead in the third set and powered on in the sunshine. Wagner took them to match point with an ace and then produced an unreturnable overhead volley to secure gold.
It means Norfolk has the compensation of adding another Quad Doubles silver to the silver he won in Athens with Mark Eccleston and the bronze he won in Beijing with Jamie Burdekin.
“I tried everything but couldn't quite get there in the end,” said Norfolk, from Alton in Hampshire. “We have a strong rivalry with the Americans and unfortunately they won the big one.”
He also said today’s match may have been his last at a Paralympic Games – but he’s not going to rush into making a decision.
“Andy for sure can go to Rio and I'm very grateful he helped me win a medal here,” he said. “It may be my last match but I won't make that decision yet.
“London has been astronomically better than anything else and it will be hard to top,” he added. “I'm going to spend some time with my family and take stock as I've spent a long time on court. But maybe I'll head out to Australia and win our third Grand Slam in January.”
Lapthorne, from Eastcote in Middlesex, said: “I'm gutted we couldn't win gold but proud I got a silver.
“I'm not sure if Pete will play again but it's been a pleasure and we've had a lot of success. The crowd have been amazing and this has been the best experience of my life.”
Despite a battling performance, Gordon Reid missed out on a place in the men’s Singles semi-finals when he went down to no. 3 seed Maikel Scheffers in the quarters 6-3 6-3.
Reid, Britain’s number nine seed from Helensburgh in Scotland, fought back from 3-1 down in the opening set to level up at 3-3 against the Beijing 2008 bronze medallist.
But the Dutch player then won three games on the bounce to go a set-up.
In set two, Reid broke Scheffers’ first service game to go 1-0 up, before the Dutchman returned the favour. Reid dug deep to win the next two games to go 3-1 ahead, before the Dutch player won three games in a row to end Reid’s hopes.
A disappointed Reid said: “My serve let me down a little bit but I was still in there with a chance even at the end.
“I probably haven't played my best tennis this tournament but I'm happy I gave it a good go and these are the top players in the world.
“I hope these Games will inspire more young people to get involved in tennis and just enjoy themselves,” he added.
Reid was back in action tonight partnering Marc McCarroll, from Ickenham in Middlesex, in the men’s Doubles quarter-finals.
The British pair, seeded seven, faced France’s no. 4 seeds Frederic Cattaneo and Nicolas Peifer.
The opening set went with serve up to 6-6, with the French edging it 7-6 (4) on a tie-break.
The second set was close again, but the French broke serve in the opening game and then held their own to give them an early advantage. Reid and McCarroll then won two games in a row, but it was the French that went on to progress to the semis, taking the second set 6-4.
Reid said: “There were just a few points in it and they are such a top pair with great experience.
“We felt we really took them close and even though I was a bit tired after my Singles earlier, I still gave it everything.
“The whole Paralympic experience has been amazing and I'm so proud to have been here and done my best in front of my friends and family. There's nothing I would have done differently.”
McCarroll added: “It's hard to take because it was so close and Gordon played some amazing tennis.
“I'd like to thank Gordon for being such a great Doubles partner this week and I've enjoyed every moment. The French guys are brilliant players and we wish them all the best for the rest of the tournament.
“I'll never experience anything like this and I'll never forget this Paralympics. Bring on Rio.”