29 Sep 2017

Gold medallist earlier in the year at the World Team Para Championships in the Slovakian capital city of Bratislava in partnership with compatriot Tobias Andersson, Daniel Gustafsson was the player to attract the attention, as proceedings in the Men’s Singles standing classes at the 2017 European Para Championships commenced in Otocec, Slovenia on Thursday 28th September.

Competing in Class 9, after overcoming Finland’s Ismo Lallo (9-11, 11-1, 11-3, 11-6) he upset the order of merit by accounting for Italy’s Mohamed Amine Kalem, the no.3 seed and bronze medallist at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Impressively, the 19 year old, who also secured the top step of the podium earlier this year at the Lignano Masters in Italy, emerged successful in four games (11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-4).

Defeat for Mohamed Amine Kalem but the door to the main draw is not closed, in his opening match of the day, he accounted for Ukraine’s Lev Kats (11-5, 11-9, 11-4). Players finishing in first and second places in each group advance to the main draw.

In the concluding group matches, Daniel Gustafsson opposed Lev Kats; Mohamed Amine Kalem meets Ismo Lallo.

One surprise but in Class 9 not where the top name was concerned; Belgium’s Laurens Devos, the Rio 2016 gold medallist, enjoyed a trouble free day beating both Hungary’s Dezso Berezki (11-6, 11-6, 11-6) and Israel’s Aviv Gordan (11-4, 11-6, 11-9).

Likewise, competing in Class 6, Spain’s Alvaro Valero, the top seed, made a fine start his campaign by overcoming Sweden’s Michael Azuly (12-10, 11-8, 11-7). Not to be overshadowed, Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier, the no.2 seed and Rio 2016 gold medallist duly completed his group matches unbeaten and hence booked a main draw place. He accounted for Switzerland’s Valentin Kneuss (11-3, 6-11, 11-4, 11-9) and Great Britain’s Martin Perry (11-7, 11-1, 14-12).

“In the first game I put myself in a really good position by going up early on and I showed signs that I’m playing quite well but then I was unable in the closer points to put the ball away. He showed real class in the second game and I had really good chances to take the third game so I can take positive points going forward. I’ve got to continue that fight tomorrow. I’ve not come here to go out in the group stage so tomorrow is a massive match.” Martin Perry

However, in Class 6 for two prominent names there were moments of concern. Ukraine’s Victor Khapp, the no.6 seed, needed the full five games to beat Spain’s Alberto Seoane (8-11, 12-10, 6-11, 12-10, 11-8), as did Great Britain’s Paul Karabardak, the no.7 seed, when confronting Israel’s Asaf Gofer (4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8).

“I had a difficult match this morning against a player who was playing really well and pushed me but I felt mentally strong and I played clever and tactically well to see him off in the end.” Paul Karabardak

Similarly in Class 7, Ukraine’s Maksym Nikolenko, the top seed, enjoyed success in his one and only match of the day; a situation that applied to Great Britain’s Will Bayley, the no.2 seed and reigning Paralympic Games champion.

Maksym Nikolenko beat Poland’s Michal Deigsler (12-10, 11-9, 11-7); Will Bayley accounted for Switzerland’s Thomas Rosenast (11-7, 11-1, 14-12).

“I was actually really happy with the way that I played because he has a different style and an awkward style that we don’t practise against much. The first match is always difficult so it was a good win for me. Trying to win all three titles would be amazing and I am playing really well but you’ve got to do it in the tournament. It doesn’t matter how well you are training and how well the preparation has gone, if you don’t do it in the tournament it doesn’t count for anything. I want to prove to myself more than anything that I can keep winning major titles.” Will Bayley

Comprehensive wins; for Spain’s Jordi Morales, the no.4 seed, life was more exacting. He needed the full five games to eventually overcome Poland’s Maksym Chudinski (15-17, 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 13-11),

Meanwhile, in Class 10 Poland’s Patryk Chojnowski, the top seed, started his campaign by overcoming Ukraine’s Serhii Boiko (11-4, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5); an impressive win but not quite so assured for Austria’s Krisztian Gardos, the no.3 seed. In his one encounter of the day, he had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to beat Frenchman Benîot Grasset (9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7).

One match played, one victory; it was the same in Class 11 for Belgium top seed, Florian Van Acker; he accounted for Russia’s Alexandr Efremov (11-9, 11-2, 12-10).

Proceedings in the initial stages of the Men’s Singles events conclude on Friday 29th September.

2017 European Para Championships: Forthcoming matches and latest results

2017 European Championships: Latest News

2017 European Championships: Daily Bulletin

2017 European Championships: Live Stream

Paralympics Para Table Tennis Daniel Gustafsson

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