ParalympicsGB has two teams through to quarter-finals later today with Kim Daybell and Ashley Facey Thompson beating Italy 2-0 in round 1 of men’s class 9-10 and Aaron McKibbin, Ross Wilson and Will Bayley defeating Belgium 2-0 in men’s class 6-8.
Daybell and Facey Thompson faced a potentially tricky round 1 match against Italy. The opening doubles against Raimondo Alecci and Mohamed Amine Kalem went to a deciding fifth set which the GB pair won 11-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the tie. Daybell then faced the men’s class 9 bronze medalist Kalem in the first singles and after losing the first set he dug deep to take the second 15-13 and then took the third 11-9. Kalem came back to level at 2-2 but Daybell was always in control in the decider and took it 11-6 to win the match 3-2 and the tie for GB 2-0.
Daybell and Facey Thompson now play China in the quarter-finals at 16:00 local time.
“I knew that match would be a bit awkward because they both have different types of spins,” said Facey Thompson. “It was a good game but we kept on fighting. At 2-2 in the doubles we could have crumbled but we still kept fighting and carried on really well.”
“I think we are both playing well now,” said Daybell. “That was a really difficult match – much harder than it looked on paper. They are both very awkward and it was a really good display of Paralympic sport with class 6 competing against class 9 and 10. Their number one player had a really good singles competition here so I was pleased to come through it. Now we can just go and have a free shot against China and see what happens.”
Newly crowned Paralympic champion Will Bayley was not needed in the men’s class 6-8 round 1 match against Belgium. McKibbin and Wilson combined well to win the doubles against the experienced Marc Ledoux and Mathieu Loicq 3-1 and Wilson then put the disappointment of his exit from the singles at the group stages behind him to beat Ledoux 3-0 in the first singles to win the tie for GB 2-0.
GB now play Spain in the quarter-final at 18:00 after they overcame Brazil in their round 1 match.
“Really happy to get the win,” said McKibbin. “Obviously doubles now is so crucial and we have been practicing a lot here. We lost to Belgium earlier in the season in Slovenia so we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game and I think today tactically we were very good. We have a lot of belief in each other – as a team we are all really together and I think that is going to make a difference.”
“I got a good start,” said Wilson, “and I think I’m trying to find my game after the disappointment of the singles competition and I’m really hoping it is going to happen in this team event. Playing with these boys gives me a massive boost and that will help me play better and hopefully get us to the end.”
Looking ahead to this afternoon’s quarter-final Bayley said: “I think it is going to be a good game and I think we’ve got a great chance to win so we’ve just got to stick to what we do best and I think if we do that we’ll be OK..”