US wheelchair tennis great tells of joy of breaking winning major streak, despite male champion

The greatest athlete in wheelchair tennis has performed his rare feat — winning gold medals at all four of the tennis majors.

Known for his talent, Rafael Nadal also made history at the French Open, becoming the first tennis player to win all four majors in a single year. Nadal also has the distinction of winning the singles gold in both wheelchair tennis tournaments (the Paralympics and the Davis Cup).

On Saturday, Diede de Groot won the men’s wheelchair singles at the U.S. Open wheelchair tennis championships in Portland, Oregon. While they are not an official match, Saturday’s singles final is one of four matches of the year, so it was a big boost for the Dutch player.

“There are few tennis players in the world who can say that they’ve accomplished this before, and nobody probably feels more excited than me, especially because I have an absolute goal to complete this golden slam,” de Groot said in an interview following the match.

A Swiss rider passed de Groot on the court to break his serve, but he found a way to win 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.

The 29-year-old de Groot has won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles in his career.

David Ruse, the U.S. senior vice president for the Tennis Association, also said de Groot “set himself apart as a genuine legend, not just in wheelchair tennis but the world of tennis.”

Ruse said his role models were Nadal and a 2003 other wheelchair singles champion, Lleyton Hewitt, who were the most high-profile athletes in the U.S. with disabilities. Ruse believes de Groot and Hewitt are examples for athletes with disabilities in general.

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