New York, USA, 8 September 2022 | Leigh Rogers

Having the opportunity to compete in the inaugural US Open junior wheelchair event is a dream come true for Saalim Naser.

“I’m incredibly grateful,” said the 18-year-old from Melbourne. “Especially since it’s my last year as a junior. I’m also really happy for the younger juniors who will now have the opportunity to experience a Grand Slam.”

Naser was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t develop properly. He first experienced tennis as a 10-year-old while at the Royal Children’s Hospital, where he met coach Greg Crump.

Now the world No.6-ranked junior, Naser trains three days a week at the National Tennis Centre in Melbourne and helped Australia claim the World Team Cup title in Portugal earlier this season.

“My biggest supporters have been my family, especially my mum,” said Naser. “She’s been there since day one, doing all of the hard stuff like driving and spending hours at tournaments.

“I also wouldn’t be able to achieve what I have without the support of Tennis Australia, and especially my coaches Greg and Francois (Vogelsberger).”

Naser makes his Grand Slam debut against Brit Joshua Johns, with the goal to “play my best tennis and also gain a lot of experience about what it’s like to play on the big stage”.

His mentor, world No.5 Heath Davidson, is also competing on day 11 at Flushing Meadows. The 35-year-old Australian features in the quad wheelchair doubles semifinals.

Davidson’s singles campaign ended with a three-set loss to world No.2 Sam Schroder of the Netherlands today. Schroder, a three-time major champion, recorded a 3-6 7-6(3) 6-3 win in a two-hour and 30-minute battle.

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