Norfolk's Alfie Hewett said he was proud of his 2024 Australian Open Wheelchair Championships campaign as the British number one and top seed saw the men’s singles title go to Japanese second seed Tokito Oda 6-2, 6-4 in Saturday’s final on Kia Arena at Melbourne Park.

Defending champion Hewett, who won his first Australian Open singles title in 2023 against the same opponent, had his time and space limited by 17-year-old Oda for large portions of what was a seventh successive Grand Slam singles final for Britain’s eight-time major champion.

Hewett fought valiantly as he sought to recover from 5-2 down in the second set and broke the Japanese serve for the first time in the match to make it 5-4. But his title defence ended on the second of two match points to deny a third British wheelchair title at Melbourne Park this year. 

Twenty four hours after partnering Gordon Reid to their fifth consecutive Australian Open and 19th Grand Slam doubles title on Friday, Hewett said: “I couldn’t do it in the moment today but making a final is still something to be proud of, so I am proud, even though it hurts right now. Last year was my first time winning the Australian Open, so I know how special it is.

“Congratulations to you Tokito, there was some high-quality tennis there, some of the best I’ve seen you play so credit to you and everything you’ve done to win this.”

With Hewett renowned for his generosity to inspire and encourage new players and fans to wheelchair tennis, Oda paid tribute in his on-court speech. He said: “I remember playing with you when I was just 13. You let me hit with you and now we’re playing Grand Slam finals against each other. It was great and I always wanted to try and play my backhand like you.”