18 Mar 2018

Silver medallist at the 2017 European Para Championships, Great Britain’s Tom Matthews emerged the surprise winner in the Men’s Singles Wheelchair Classes at the 2018 Lignano Masters Para Open on Friday 16th March.

In an event that was littered with upsets he won the Class 1 title.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

At the final hurdle, the 25 year old accounted for Argentina’s Fernando Eberhardt, a player he had confronted in the group stage one day earlier; in the initial phase he had emerged successful in three straight games (11-7, 11-8, 12-10, in the final it was a much closer affair, he needed the full five games to secure victory. Notably he recovered from a two games to nil deficit to emerge successful by the very narrowest of margins (4-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9).

Earlier at the semi-final stage, Tom Matthews had beaten Italy’s Federico Falco, the no.4 seed (11-5, 11-6, 11-13, 11-8), the quarter-final winner in opposition to Korea’s Nam Kiwon, the top seed (11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6). In the corresponding semi-final, Fernando Eberhardt had overcome colleague Guillermo Bustamente (11-5, 11-2, 21-19).

“I think I played well, I need to be more clinical at times but that will come with experience. I was a bit nervous in the final and at two-nil down I had to dig deep but I found my level and came back from 8-6 down in the fifth to win so I’m really pleased with that.” Tom Matthews

Success for Tom Matthews contrary to expectations, in the remaining events in the Men’s Singles Wheelchair category it was success for the top seeds.

Ukraine’s Oleksandr Yezyk won Class 2 beating Korea’s Park Jincheol in the final (8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3. 11-9); also from Ukraine Vasyl Petruniv secured the Class 3 title at the expense of Spain’s Roberto Rodriguez (11-6, 11-1, 7-11, 5-11, 11-7).

Meanwhile, Korea’s Kim Junggil emerged as the Class 4 champion accounting for Egypt’s Mohamed Eid Saleh at the final hurdle (17-15, 15-17, 13-11, 11-9), whilst in Class 5 the top prize finished in the hands of the reigning World champion. Germany’s 22 year old Valentin Baus overcame Serbia’s Mitar Palikuca to claim the top prize (11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8).

“I played a very good tournament. I wanted to play well and to start the year in the best way and I managed to do that. Mitar Palikuca is a good player, we have played against each other many times and the match is always tight. To beat players like Mitar you have to be focused on every point. At the end, in the fourth game I had six match points at 10-4, he recovered to 10-8, before I managed to win. I kept on fighting till the end. I have won many tournaments in my career but it’s the first in Italy.” Valentin Baus

Play in the individual events concluded, the focus now turns to the team competitions; play concludes on Saturday 17th March.

2018 Lignano Masters Para Open – Day Two
Photos: Michele Castellani

Lignano Para Masters: Draws for main events and latest results

Paralympics Para Table Tennis Tom Matthews