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Teenager Tokito Oda and record-breaking Diede de Groot win wheelchair titles at French Open


AP Photo/Christophe Ena
Japan’s Tokito Oda celebrates his victory against Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez in the men’s wheelchair final of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris, France, Saturday, June 8, 2024.

PARIS (AP) — Top-ranked Diede de Groot won a record 22nd Grand Slam wheelchair singles title as she defeated unseeded Zhu Zhenzhen 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the French Open women’s final on Saturday.

In the men’s wheelchair final, second-seeded Tokito Oda of Japan successfully defended his Roland Garros title with a 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 3 seed Argentine Gustavo Fernandez. It was the fourth major title for 18-year-old Oda.

With the victory of 27-year-old De Groot, she overtook her Dutch compatriot Esther Vergeer for the most titles in women’s singles.

“Of course I am very proud that I now have this record, but at the same time I know the circumstances in which Esther played,” says De Groot. “She couldn’t play singles at Wimbledon, many Grand Slams weren’t even called Grand Slams yet. So it’s not really a comparison.”

Vergeer had a winning streak of 470 matches in her career, while De Groot’s unbeaten run ended at 145 last month.

“Of course I am very proud of myself, but I am especially proud of myself for keeping it this way. But for me, Esther will always have this legacy of such a long time (she was undefeated), like 470 games. She was that good,” said De Groot. “We could be at the top together. I feel like it’s more together, rather than which one is better.”

It was also the fourteenth major title in a row for the two-time Paralympic gold medalist De Groot.

De Groot can be seen in a TV commercial with the French car manufacturer Renault, which will be shown on French television during the tournament. She is one of their three brand ambassadors in tennis, along with Frenchman Luca Van Assche and number 21 Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime.

“It’s still really important that we’re visible in those kinds of things because a lot of people don’t know me, and a lot of people don’t know any of the wheelchair athletes that play here,” she said. “So we need help from those big brands. I am really proud of Renault for doing that.”

Zhu, 34, was looking to win her first Grand Slam title and become only the second Chinese player to win a major singles title in any category other than juniors since two-time major winner Li Na in 2014.

“She did so well, considering it’s her first final,” De Groot said of her opponent. “She can be really proud of herself.”

Oda will now attempt to defend his Wimbledon title on grass. He has won every major except the US Open, where he never advanced past the quarterfinals.


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AP Photo/Christophe Ena
Japan’s Tokito Oda holds the trophy after winning against Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez in the men’s wheelchair final of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris, France, Saturday, June 8, 2024.
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