After a shaky start Rob Davies looked to be heading for a 3-0 win against his old rival Sylvio Keller but the Swiss player came back to win the third set 13-11 and then recovered from 2-7 to win the fourth 11-9 and take the match into a fifth set. Davies refocused and ran away with the decider to take it 11-2 and clinch the match 3-2.
“It was just a matter of battling in the first end but I came back well,” said Davies. “The second end I thought I played better and then just let the nerves get to me a bit in the third and fourth. Sylvio beat me last time I played him in Slovakia and I think that was playing on my mind a bit but I’ve put that to bed now and hopefully I can play better in my next match and be a bit more clinical. In the last set I just focused a lot more and put into practice how I can play. I’ve got to take that now into my next match against Borgato.”
Will Bayley had to take on the home crowd as well as his Brazilian opponent Israel Stroh and although he won a tight first set 12-10 he lost the next three and must beat Liao Keli from China tomorrow to keep his Paralympic dream alive.
“It was one of those days,” said Bayley. “When he won the second set it was a turning point in the match and he seemed to play better in the important points after that. I still want to try and win this competition and I still believe I can win this competition and I’ll be back stronger tomorrow. No excuses – I just want to focus on tomorrow and put this defeat to bed because I’m already thinking about trying to win my next match.”
Sara Head could not have had a more difficult first match against the Paralympic champion and World number one Anna-carin Ahlquist and the Swedish player looked in top form in a 3-0 win. Head needs to beat Edith Sigala Lopez on Saturday to have a chance of progressing into the knockout stages.
“I changed my tactics and gave it my all but it wasn’t my day today,” said Head. “The positives are I’ve played in the hall and enjoyed it so I’m going to take that forward into my next match on Saturday. The atmosphere is incredible with the Brazilians supporting their players and I was grateful for those that were supporting me as well.”
Ross Wilson took on Emil Andersson in his first match in a repeat of their London 2012 bronze medal match. Wilson started well and then showed great determination to level the match at 2-2 after the Swede had taken a 2-1 lead. The final set could have gone either way but Andersson edged it 11-8 to leave Wilson needing to win his second match tomorrow against Marcin Skrzynecki of Poland, who had beaten Andersson this morning.
“He’s a great player and we always have great matches,” said Wilson. “It could have gone either way but well played to him. I didn’t play too bad today and I’m still not in a bad position going into tomorrow’s match. I can still go through if I win my second match well so I’ve got to forget about this, relax a little bit and then go again tomorrow.”
Sue Gilroy was the final GB player in action today and her opponent World champion Zhang Miao was always in command in a 3-0 win. Gilroy plays her second match tomorrow against Pi-chun Lu of Chinese Taipei.
“I was getting her serves back a lot better than when I played her last time,” said Gilroy, “but I’m disappointed with how I played as I know I can play better. I wasn’t rallying enough or moving to the ball but it was a tough first match. She’s a good player but I know I can play a lot better against her. I’ve just got to focus on tomorrow now and come back stronger. It’s a tough group but they are all tough at a Paralympic Games.”