29 Sep 2017

The top seeds survived but as play progressed in the initial stage of proceedings in the Men’s wheelchair events at the 2017 European Para Championships in the Slovenia city of Otocec on Thursday 28th September, there were surprises.

Great Britain’s Rob Davies and Frenchman Fabien Lamirault, both gold medallists at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, were the notable names to withstand major challenges; their respective colleagues Paul Davies and Alan René Papirer were amongst those who upset the pecking order.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

In Class 1, Rob Davies, the top seed, beat Italy’s Federico Falco by the very narrowest of margins (11-9, 6-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9) to secure first place in his group, after having accounted for Russia’s Dmitrij Lavrov in rather less dramatic fashion (11-2, 11-2, 11-4).

“I knew it would be a battle with Falco. We have had some tough games of late and to beat him three-two again is pretty satisfying. Obviously I’d like to do it a bit easier but I’ll try that next time I play him. I’ve just got to keep battling; that is the main thing at the moment. I’m not quite at my best but I’m hoping I can get there for later on in the tournament. I’m just really happy with the result: two from two, you can’t get better than that. I’m definitely going to battle for as long as I can.” Rob Davies

However, for Andrea Borgato, like Federico Falco also from Italy and the no.3 seed, it was a different fate. He was beaten by Alan René Papirer (11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-6) and by Paul Davies (12-10, 11-8, 11-6). Additionally Alan René Papirer accounted for Hungary’s Janos Kaiser (11-6, 11-4, 11-5), as did Paul Davies (11-2, 11-3, 11-3). Thus both Alan René Papirer and Paul Davies are assured of main draw places; they now meet to determine first place.

“Did that really happen? I just couldn’t do anything wrong today, the old tiger is back. It didn’t matter what Borgato did, I reached everything and it just all came together. I’m in shock. The World team medal was good but this could be the icing on the cake. I haven’t played like this for years.” Paul Davies

Similarly, in Class 2, there was an upset and close calls. The Czech Republic’s Jiri Suchanek, the no.5 seed was beaten by Frenchman, Vincent Boury (11-6, 1-11, 11-8, 15-13); in addition to Fabien Lamirault, the top seed, the close calls were experienced by the Slovak Republic’s Jan Riapos, the no.3 seed and by Stéphane Molliens, also from France, the no.5 seed.

All three were extended the full five games. Eventually, Fabien Lamirault overcame the Czech Republic’s Tomasz Jakimczuk (12-10, 8-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-5), Jan Riapos beat Italy’s Guiseppe Vella (4-11, 11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 11-3). Similarly, Stéphane Molliens defeated Martin Zvolanek, like Tomasz Jakimczuk from the Czech Republic (11-5, 3-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7).

Earlier in his opening match, Fabien Lamirault had accounted for Poland’s Tomasz Jakimczuk (11-4, 11-7, 11-1) and thus remained unbeaten to secure first place in his group; for Jan Riapos and Stéphane Molliens, initial phase matches remain.

First place for Rob Davies and Fabien Lamirault; it was the same in Class 3 for the German duo of Thomas Schmidberger, the top seed and Thomas Brüchle, the defending champion; however, for their colleague, Jan Guertler, the no.6 seed, there was a surprise defeat. He was beaten by Poland’s Maciej Nalepka (9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-9).

Meanwhile, in Class 4 and Class 5 status prevailed; the respective top seeds, Turkey’s Abdullah Ozturk and Ali Ozturk remained unbeaten in their one and only duel of the day. No upsets but there was one close call; Poland’s Rafal Lis needed the full five games to beat Slovakia’s Boris Travnicek (7-11, 11-13, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7).

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

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Paralympics Para Table Tennis Rob Davies Paul Davies Fabien Lanirault Alan René Papirer

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