There will be a new name on the Australian Open wheelchair men's singles trophy following Shingo Kunieda's retirement ©Getty Images

There will be a new name on the Australian Open men’s singles wheelchair trophy after defending champion Shingo Kunieda’s retirement from the sport.

The Japanese star announced his immediate retirement from wheelchair tennis yesterday following a stellar career which has included winning the men’s singles title at Melbourne Park 11 times, as well as eight doubles titles at the venue.

With Kunieda absent, the man he beat in last year’s singles final Alfie Hewett of Britain starts as top seed.

Hewett has been the singles runner-up in Melbourne for the last two years and will hope to go one better this time, starting his campaign against Daisuke Arai of Japan.

Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina is second seed for the event, and has an opening-round match against Ruben Spaargaren of the Netherlands.

In the women’s singles draw, Diede De Groot of the Netherlands is aiming to win the trophy for a third successive year.

She starts her campaign against Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa and will be the woman to beat, having won the last nine women’s wheelchair singles crowns at Grand Slam tournaments, a run that stretches back to the 2020 US Open.

At the other end of the draw is a familiar rival for De Groot in the shape of Yui Kamiji of Japan, who De Groot beat in Australia in 2021, the first step in winning a Golden Slam, as she took all the singles Grand Slam titles in the calendar year.

Kamiji starts her campaign against Britain’s Lucy Shuker, a semi-finalist in the women’s singles in Melbourne last year.

In the quad singles, the defending champion is Sam Schroder of the Netherlands, with the second seed starting his defence against Australian Heath Davidson.

Diede De Groot is aiming to win the Australian Open women's wheelchair singles title for a third year in a row ©Getty Images
Diede De Groot is aiming to win the Australian Open women's wheelchair singles title for a third year in a row ©Getty Images

The top seed is Niels Vink of the Netherlands, a double Grand Slam singles champion, who will start his quest to reach the Australian Open final for the first time against Ymanitu Silva of Brazil.

In the men’s wheelchair doubles the defending champions are British pairing Hewett and Gordon Reid.

Hewett and Reid start as second seeds and open their campaign against Joachim Gerard of Belgium and Takuya Miki of Japan.

The top seeds at the other end of the eight-pairing draw are Fernandez of Argentina and Spain’s Martin De La Puente.

Fernandez was runner-up in this event last year alongside now retired Kunieda and he starts with De La Puente up against Dutch duo Maikel Scheffers and Spaargaren.

In the women’s wheelchair doubles the defending champions are Dutch pairing De Groot and Aniek Van Koot.

De Groot and Van Koot start the defence of their crown against Macarena Cabrillana of Chile and Maria Florencia Moreno of Argentina.

Finally in the quad doubles, a four-team tournament, the defending champions Andy Lapthorne of Britain and David Wagner of the United States, begin against Donald Ramphadi of South Africa and Silva of Brazil.

Last year’s runners-up Schroder and Vink start as top seeds this time around, and open their quest to go one better against Davidson and his partner Robert Shaw of Canada.

The men’s, women’s and quad wheelchair singles events are all due to begin tomorrow.