In the morning session on the third day of competition in Riocentro Kim Daybell (men’s class 10), Paul Davies (men’s class 1) and Sara Head (women’s class 3) all progressed from their groups into the knockout stages of their respective events and David Wetherill won his last 16 match to reach the quarter finals of men’s class 6.
After his loss yesterday in the group to Thomas Rau of Germany Wetherill overcame the Chilean Matias Pino Lorca in four sets to set up a quarter-final this evening against the World champion and World number one Alvaro Valera from Spain.
“I’m struggling to find feeling for the ball in the conditions,” said Wetherill. “I’m playing really well but I’ve just got to keep battling and hopefully grind it out. I made it more difficult for myself yesterday with the loss in the group but I feel like I can beat anyone on my day. Tonight will be like my final because I feel if I can get through that match I can go all the way so I’m just going to give it everything tonight and see what happens.”
Daybell followed up his win over the World number two David Jacobs yesterday by beating the talented Bas Hergelink from the Netherlands in another five set match. The 19 year old Dutchman had to win 3-0 to go through and raced through the first set 11-4 but Daybell is playing with great confidence and took the next two sets. Although Hergelink edged the fourth 13-11 Daybell took control in the fifth and closed it out 11-5.
“He is one of the young up-and-coming players,” said Daybell, “and is probably going to be one of the best players in the world one day. Sometimes he comes out and plays sets like the first and for me it was about not panicking and sticking to what I knew was working. I changed the way I was playing a little bit and stopped playing so close to his racket but credit to him he came out and gave me a real battle because he knew he had to win 3-0 to go through and even after he lost one set he still kept fighting and it was a great match to be part of. We’ve done a lot of work on my psychology over the last two or three years – I’ve lost a lot of close games in the past having been ahead – so I was able to calm down a little bit in the fifth and just do what I needed to do and come through.”
Daybell goes through as the winner of his group and receives a bye into the quarter finals tomorrow where he will play the winner of the last 16 match between the Spaniard Jose Ruiz Reyes and Lian Hao from China.
Paul Davies had to take on the home crowd as well as his Brazilian opponent Aloisio Lima Junior in his second group match and after a great battle, at 10-5 down in the fifth and with the crowd at fever pitch, it looked as if he was heading for defeat. But the Welshman never knows when he is beaten and having levelled at 10-10 he saved a further two match points before clinching the match 14-12.
“At 5-10 down in the fifth I just chucked everything at it basically and it paid off,” said Davies. “To have the Brazilian crowd making so much noise – which I’d experienced before in London but that was a home crowd and this is an away games – did lift me as well because I used it to my advantage. Then to get back to 10-10 and save the last two match points as well – I’m overwhelmed. To get to the quarter-finals is amazing – I’m overjoyed.”
Davies will play the Korean Ki-won Nam in the quarter-finals at 19:00 this evening while team partner and fellow Welshman Rob Davies will play the Frenchman Jean-Francois Ducay.
Sara Head reached the knockout stages with a battling 3-2 win over the Mexican Edith Sigala Lopez, holding her nerve at 9-9 in the final set to take it 11-9.
“At 1-0 down that is when my stubbornness kicked in,” said Head. “I wasn’t going to give in. I was thinking where could I find her weaknesses and then I tried to be more consistent as I was making too many mistakes and that is what paid off in the end. At 9-9 in the final set it was make or break but I thought ‘just go for it’ and I’m really happy I managed to win.”
Head plays a last 16 match against Helena Dretar Karic from Croatia at 16:00 this afternoon.
Jane Campbell came very close to joining Sara Head in the knockout stages of the women’s class 3 singles. She led Hatice Duman 2-1 in her final group match but the Turkish player came back to take the match 11-2 in the fifth. Although disappointed Campbell can look forward to the team event which starts on Wednesday.
“I wasn’t calm enough today,” said Campbell. “I was just a bit too affected by what was going on around me. At 2-1 up I was feeling quite confident and strong but she changed her game and adapted. I’ll keep training over the next few days to keep the level up for the team event and see what happens. “
“Fraczyk is a great player and a legend in class 9,” said Facey Thompson. “I felt that I pushed him – I didn’t let him win I made him win. I made some silly mistakes and I could have played better but it is a Paralympic Games and it is different to every other competition. I’m loving it and want to play again and I’m looking forward to the team event now. Kim (Daybell) is playing well – he beat the world number two yesterday – so I am just going to enjoy it and you never know. I’m going to go out there and keep on fighting and I’m really enjoying playing table tennis on the big stage. To represent ParalympicsGB is incredible and I would like to thank UK Sport and the Lottery as well.”