Six of the 11 GB players competing in the Slovakia Open in Bratislava came through their group matches today to progress to the knockout stages of the singles events.
European men’s class 1 champion Rob Davies recovered from a slow start against the improving Brazilian number one Aloisio Lima to win his first match 3-1 and followed it up with a more comfortable 3-0 win over Hamed Latif from Kuwait to take him through to tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
“The first match was tough but I got through it and that was the main thing,” said Davies. “I know all the matches are going to be tough now because the pressure is on me and everyone wants to beat me. I will have a good knock in the morning, keep doing my routine and try and up my level tomorrow, hopefully step on from Slovenia – that would be good.”
Fellow Welshman and class 1 team partner Paul Davies beat the number two Brazilian Bruno de Paula 3-0 and then came through a potentially difficult match against Fernando Eberhardt from Argentina 3-0. The pride of North Cornelly secured his place in the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Janos Kaiser from Hungary.
Sheffield based Paralympic silver medalist Will Bayley (class 7) had a comfortable 3-0 win against Michal Deigsler from Poland and followed that up with another 3-0 victory over Shmuel Shuh from Israel to progress to tomorrow’s quarter-finals as winner of his group.
“I’m quite pleased with the way I played,” said Bayley, 26, from Tunbridge Wells. “They are different styles and Shmuel is quite difficult to play so to win two matches 3-0 is always good in factor 40 events. I’ve got to be as positive as I can be and try to be aggressive and use my strengths, which is my attacking play. That’s the way I play my best and I’m hoping I can do that tomorrow.”
Bayley’s class 7 team partner Paul Karabardak won GB’s first match of the day, beating the German Silvio Herbig 3-0 and had chances against the talented Frenchman Kevin Dourbecker in his second match but lost to the world number ten 1-3. A 3-0 win against Susumu Miyawaki from Japan took him through to the last 16 and he produced some of his best table tennis to beat old rival Zbynek Lambert from the Czech Republic 3-0 and book his place in the quarter finals.
Torpoint’s David Wetherill started with a 3-0 win against Michael Azulay from Sweden and reached the class 6 quarter-finals with a very good 3-0 win against Chao Chen from China.
“This gives me confidence for tomorrow,” said Wetherill. “I lost to Chen last time and before this match I was a little bit wary of that so I’m really pleased that I won quite comfortably. The Chinese dominate in table tennis so to get one up on them is always nice.”
Liverpool’s Jack Hunter-Spivey, currently world ranked number 18 in men’s class 5, had been drawn in a tough group and after being outplayed by the world number two and London 2012 silver medalist Ningning Cao from China in his first match (lost 0-3) he came back to beat Hamza Caliskan from Turkey in three competitive sets. The 19 year old secured his place in tomorrow’s quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over the world number nine from Korea Ki-young Kim, taking the match on his third match point.
“In my first match I didn’t play my best,” admitted Hunter-Spivey. “I was disappointed in my performance but my next two games were really good. I played Kim in San Diego last year and I was 2-0 up and lost 3-2. I lost my concentration a bit in the third set today but I got it back and I stuck to what Gorazd (Vecko) told me and that’s what I need to do.”
Aaron McKibbin was unlucky not to go through from his group in men’s class 8. After a 0-3 loss to world number two Emil Andersson from Sweden he beat the Slovakian Miroslav Jambor 3-1 but with Jambor having beaten Andersson 3-1 McKibbin lost out on a place in the knockout stages on count back.
In the women’s class 3 singles both Jane Campbell and Sara Head failed to progress from tough groups. Campbell came up against a difficult Chinese opponent in her first match and fought hard in a 0-3 loss to the world number five Juan Xue. The London athlete displayed all her battling qualities against the Italian Federica Cudia in her second match to come through 11-9 in the fifth. She needed to beat Nergiz Altintas in her final group match but lost 3-1 to her Turkish rival and also lost out on a place in the knockout stages.
Head, from Beddau, was looking to avenge her two defeats in Slovenia to Pamela Fontaine but again found the American in determined form and lost in three close sets. She played a better game against Qian Li from China, levelling the match against the world number two at 1-1 and competing well despite losing the next two sets and the match. Although she beat Edith Sigala from Mexico 3-1 in her final group match it was not enough to take her through.
London teenager Ashley Facey Thompson started well in his first match against the French world number five Cedric Cabestany but after losing a tight first set 12-14 the Sheffield based London teenager went on to lose the match 0-3 and lost his second match to the Ukrainian Vadym Kubov by the same score.
GB Pathway squad member Thomas Matthews (class 1) pushed the experienced world number eight Andrea Borgato from Italy all the way despite losing in three close sets. He then recovered well from losing the first set to Martin Barbierik to beat the Slovakian 3-1 but found world number 12 Matti Launonen from Finland too strong in his last match and did not progress after a 0-3 loss.
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