Dermot Bailey’s fine run of form continued as the Kettering 24-year-old sealed his fourth men’s singles title on the 2018 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour with victory at the Return Cup in Budapest, Hungary.
Having gone into the tournament without a seeding, Bailey beat three of the top four seeds during the course of te ITF Futures event, including a first-time victory over Austria’s former world No.3 Martin Legner.
Straight sets wins over the Czech Republic’s Petr Utikal and Croaria’s Jozo Milos set up Bailey’s third career meeting against Legner and the Corby Tennis Centre player dug deep to win their quarter-final – and Bailey’s second match in a day – 6-3, 7-6(4).
With second seed Legner beaten, Bailey earned a more straightforward 6-1, 6-2 win over his doubles partner Kamil Fabisiak of Poland, but that did little to prepare him for the challenge he faced against Austrian top seed Nico Langmann in the final.
Due to heavy rain in Budapest, Bailey had to change venues during the final and dominated the third and deciding set to defeat Langmann 6-7(2) 7-6(8) 6-0 after saving five match points in the second.
The Kettering has improved his ranking by 13 places and is now at world No.46 as he looks ahead to his next tournament, the Swedish Open, in mid-October.
“It was the best tournament win I’ve had so far, said Bailey, a member of the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme.
“I beat three top 30 players in a row for the first time and especially the way I played in the final, it’s very special. Each time I was match point I kept finding a way of winning the point and then I finally remembered the way I wanted to play in the third set and pulled away and won the key points every time.
“I’ve never beaten Legner before and to go out and do that in the quarters was massive for me. There were times in the second set of that when I got caught up in how he wanted to me to play, but in the tie-break I found what I wanted to do and not how he wanted me to play.
“He likes to play at a slightly slower pace and that’s not me, so I had to stay mentally tough to play on my terms.
“The final was tough for other reasons.
“After heavy overnight rain we had an extended warm-up, as only one clay court was playable and there was not chance to practice.
“Then it started to rain again during the first point and we ended up having to go to an indoor court.
“So a match that was due to start at 10am on clay eventually got underway at about 12.15 indoors and then we were unable to finish the doubles final after all the delays."