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Wagner battles back to earn quad singles bronze

September 16, 2016 03:30 PM

By Steve Goldberg, special to USTA.com

Rio de Janeiro – It certainly wasn't the color he coveted, but in the end, the competitor that is David Wagner had to fight for a bronze medal just as he would if it were gold.

Down two breaks in the third set to South African Lucas Sithole, Wagner survived two match points, steeled his resolve and took six straight games to win his third singles medal in four Paralympic Games, 6-1, 2-6, 7-6.

"I always have that never give up thought process and fight to the end," said Wagner. "It's cliché to say but it's never over till it's over, right."

The night before, Wagner had endured three long sets in the doubles gold medal match that ended late in the evening. His singles bronze medal match started at noon, making for a tight turnaround.

"I was exhausted out there and had to stick to our game plan that the coaches helped me come up with,” Wagner said. “I knew if we did that, I'd be all right. I had to go for my shots and keep him honest and it worked out well for me."

Wagner now has the complete of Paralympic medals, adding this bronze to his collection of three doubles gold medals – won with Nick Taylor in Athens, Beijing and London – two singles silver medals – won in Athens and London – and a doubles silver won with Taylor the night before here in Rio.

Wagner started strong, winning the first set with ease, and it looked as though it would be quick work on the day. Not to be, though, as Sithole, in his second Paralympics, came back to take the second set. That dominance continued well into the third set as he broke Wagner's serve three times, putting himself in position to win his first Paralympic medal – before the American began his comeback.

Sithole took a positive attitude about the match, however.

“I think I gave it all I have,” said the former US Open Wheelchair Competition champion. “He just played good. I'm just going to keep pushing until I get what I want."

Dylan Alcott of Australia won the gold medal, with Great Britain's Andy Lapthorne earning silver.