11 Sep 2016

Winner earlier in the year on home soil in Italy, Mohamed Amine Kalem reserved his place in the main draw of Men’s Singles Class 9 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games but on the morning of Saturday 10th September, it was a reversal of fortunes.

One day earlier, he had caused a major upset by recovering from a two games to nil deficit to beat China’s Zhai Yiqing, the no.4 seed, in a five games (8-11, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-8); on the third day of action, the favourite, he experienced defeat by the very narrowest of margins against the host nation’s Diego Moreira (11-5, 11-13, 5-11, 12-10, 11-9).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Presently on the Men’s Class 9 World Rankings, both enjoy their highest listing ever but there is quite considerable gap; Mohamed Amine Kalem is listed at no.9, Diego Moreira at no.30.

Games ratio

The result meant that Mohamed Amine Kalem concluded matters in second place; on the opening day of action, Diego Moreira had experienced a four games defeat at the hands of Zhai Yiqing (11-4, 11-3, 8-11, 11-9).

Games ratio determined the fact that the eventual order was Zhai Yiqing (5:4), Mohamed Amine Kalem (5:5) followed by Diego Moreira (4:5).

Hard group

“I knew it was a hard group, I knew from the very start that I had to push myself; I needed just one more game to be through to the main draw”, said Diego Moreira. “I had played Mohamed in the Slovak Republic and I’d lost three-one so I knew what to expect.”

Disappointed but Diego Moreira was philosophical and looked for the positives.

Nervous

“Against Zhai Yiqing I was very nervous, I lost the first two games before I knew what was happening, it was not until the third game that I started to play”, explained Diego Moreira. “Sure I’m unhappy that I’m out of the tournament but I am pleased with how I played; I think I played at a good level.”

Certainly to beat Mohamed Amine Kalem, he played at a very good level and caused the Italian a host of problems.

 “Playing Zhai Yiqing my backhand top spin was strong; that was a key factor”, explained Mohamed Amine Kalem. “Today against Diego, my control was not so good; I was not able to block well.”

 Main draw qualifiers

First place for Zhai Yiqing; in the remaining groups it was top spot for compatriot Ma Lin as it was for Belgium’s Laurens Devos, Austria’s Stanislaw Fraczyk and Gerben Last of the Netherlands.

In addition to Mohamed Amine Kalem Second positions and thus main draw places were secured by Tal Leibovitz of the United States, Ukraine’s Yuriy Shchpanskyy, Spain’s Juan Bautista Perez Gonzalez and Frenchman Cédrik Cabestany.

Paralympics Diegp Moreiro Mohamed Amin Kalem