No dream ending for Dylan Alcott as Australian Open final defeat ushers in retirement

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<span>Photograph: Aaron Francis/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Aaron Francis/AFP/Getty Images
  • Australian falls 7-5 6-0 to Sam Schröder in last match of career

  • ‘I’m really the luckiest guy in the world,’ Alcott says

He said he would live if he did not win, and live Dylan Alcott shall. Without an eighth consecutive Australian Open title but with his nation behind him.

On Thursday afternoon, when Alcott lost his quad singles at Rod Laver Arena, he bid farewell to a sporting career matched by few. One featuring 23 grand slam quad titles including 15 in singles, Paralympic gold medals and a revered golden slam.

And while the 31-year-old fought but fell short to Sam Schröder of the Netherlands, succumbing 7-5, 6-0, his Australian of the Year predecessor, Grace Tame, watched from the stands.

At one point Alcott saw Tame’s face pop up on the big screen, paused his service game and said “I love you Tame-y” before winning the point.

Related: Win or lose, Dylan Alcott is changing perceptions of people with disability like me | Kate Thomas

At the post-match presentation he came close to tears while saluting the large number of disabled children in attendance.

“It’s because of you all watching today that people like me get, not recognition, but are more integrated in society,” Alcott said. “To my community, thanks for always backing me – I hope to make you proud over the next 12 months. Thank you to every single person for changing my life, I appreciate it so much.

“I’m really the luckiest guy in the world, and I didn’t need to win today to realise that. It would have been nice to win, to be honest, but I’m still the luckiest person in this country, if not the luckiest person in the world.”

Alcott had admitted pre-match he was “fried” after rushing to Canberra for Tuesday night’s Australian of the Year ceremony straight after his semi-final win, absorbing all the associated emotion and publicity and then preparing for his “last dance”.

The weariness as Schröder worked him around the court and drawing 31 unforced errors.

“First of all, I want to say congrats to Dylan on having an amazing career. You’ve inspired so many people out there to get out and play sport,” Schröder said. “Thank for your all that you’ve done.

“It’s always great being back here. I love the weather, I love you guys coming to watch today. It was very special.”

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