Photo: Scott Grant
Canadian Rob Shaw bowed out of the wheelchair tennis quad event at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics following a tough 6-3, 6-3 loss to No. 3 seed Andy Lapthorne of Great Britain.
Shaw, who won Gold at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, was competing in his first-ever Paralympics match against the experienced Brit who won the Silver medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The first set of their match in Tokyo was extremely competitive with both players putting on a tremendous display. The pair exchanged early breaks, but Lapthorne converted another break soon after to take what looked to be a decisive 4-2 lead.
However, Shaw showed great grit and determination to bounce back immediately, crafting two break point opportunities in the very next game before his opponent double faulted – one of seven during the first set alone – to put it back on serve. Lapthorne, though, made sure his experience showed, breaking again to jump out to a 5-3 lead before withstanding a couple of break point opportunities for Shaw to see out the set 6-3.
In the cumbersome Tokyo heat – which hit 28 degrees Celsius between sets with 73% humidity – Shaw started the second set strongly as he hit a powerful forehand in response to Lapthorne’s second serve to craft an early break. However, the Brit soon retaliated with a break of his own before consolidating to ensure proceedings were levelled at 2-2.
In the next game, a long backhand from the Canadian handed Lapthorne a big chance with two breakpoint opportunities. He would take the first thanks to the intense pressure he was putting on Shaw, who hit his shot wide at the crucial moment.
The conditions seemed to be taking their toll on the North Bay, Ontario native as Lapthorne took a 15:40 lead on the Canadian’s next service game. But Shaw battled back to deuce before going on to claim the game thanks to his strong resolve.
Lapthorne then held to make it 5-3, meaning he was just one game away from victory. It came just minutes later after a pulsating exchange saw the Brit take the advantage on deuce before sealing his passage through to the next round as Shaw hit long.