by Francesca Bullock, British Para Team Press Officer
Notably, Commonwealth champion Ross Wilson and European silver medallist Dave Wetherill booked their places in the knock-out stages by winning both their group matches. There were also wins for Kim Daybell, Ashley Facey Thompson, Jack Hunter-Spivey and Sue Gilroy.
Men’s Class 1
Rob Davies put his below-par performance at last month’s Czech Open behind him with a convincing straight games win against Alan Papirer from France (11-5, 11-2, 11-4).
“I’m really happy. It was good to win three-nil. I’m happy with the way I played more than anything. I managed to keep my focus which was the main thing. I want to keep improving and if I can keep in the tournament I think I will get better and better.” Rob Davies
Somewhat differently, on his World Championships debut, Tom Matthews was bitterly disappointed to lose his first match to 22 year old Hyeon Ukim from Korea Republic (11-8, 11-7, 11-6), the 2017 Asian Championships silver medallist.
“I never really settled into the match. He is a really good player. I’ve never seen him before or played him before. He’s quite new on the scene and I didn’t really know what to expect. I need to get my movement a bit better and hopefully I can get through the next match. It’s a new experience for me being on the big stage in front of all the lights. I’ll learn from it and hopefully do a better job next time.” Tom Matthews
Men’s Class 5
Jack Hunter-Spivey made an assured start with a three-nil win against Iakoba Taubakoa, the wild card from Fiji (11-3, 11-4, 11-7).
“I feel like I played really well. It was just getting used to the environment, the hall, the lights and everything. I feel that I did what I set out to do, so for me it was a great first match and hopefully I can kick on now and perform at my best.” Jack Hunter-Spivey
Men’s Class 6
David Wetherill was a three-nil winner against the Oceania champion Trevor Hirth from Australia (11-4, 11-4, 11-7), before coming back from losing the first game to beat the French World no.8 Bastien Grundeler (10-12, 11-7, 11-3, 12-10) to book his place in the knock-out stage.
“First of all it was good to get the win. I feel a bit rusty. I haven’t played a lot this year compared to what I’m used to and I felt mentally a bit fragile so it was good to have a nice little battle and work my way into the tournament. I know I’m only going to get better.” David Wetherill
Meanwhile, despite a late fight back in the third game Paul Karabardak lost his first match to the European bronze medallist Bobi Simion from Romania (11-6-11-5, 14-12) but can still progress if he beats Kazuki Shichino from Japan tomorrow.
Men’s Class 7
Defending champion Will Bayley was given a difficult match by Daniel Horut from Czech Republic and was relieved to come through in four games against the former European bronze medallist (8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9).
“I’m really happy to come through that because there was one point in the match where I thought “this is very difficult”, I was struggling a bit. I was playing really well but tactically not as well as I could have done and Daniel was playing probably the best he’s ever played against me today, so it took me a bit by surprise. The first match is always the toughest and I’ve got another tough one coming up. Every match is a final for me and I’ve got another final tomorrow so we’ll see what happens.” Will Bayley
Men’s Class 8
Ross Wilson gave the British team a perfect start with a dominant three-nil win against the 32 year old former World number one from Belgium, Marc Ledoux (11-3, 11-6, 11-5) and then came through against the former World no.1 and Rio bronze medallist Piotr Grudzien from Poland (11-5, 12-10, 11-13, 11-8) secure top place in his group.
“It was really good. I knew I was going to have a fight on my hands in both matches so I came in very focused from the start. I went for it and took my chances; today was a good day. Grudzien is a really tricky player and he changed his tactics in the third gamer and that caught me out quite a lot. I needed to adapt to that and I did in the fourth set so I was pleased with that.” Ross Wilson
Conversely, Aaron McKibbin lost his first match to defending champion and World no.1 Viktor Didukh from Ukraine (12-10, 11-6, 11-7) and must win his second match tomorrow against a former World champion Richard Csejtey from Slovakia.
“I wouldn’t say I played my best level and he didn’t have to do too much to beat me. I was struggling a lot with his serves and when it was getting into open play; that was the difference between us. He was more solid in the first few strokes. The next game will be completely different so I’m not going to carry the result into tomorrow. I’m going to go back and focus and try and change things around.” Aaron McKibbin
Men’s Class 9
Ashley Facey Thompson looked really sharp against the 18 year old Brazilian Lucas Dos Santos Carvalho and was a comfortable three-nil winner (11-3, 11-4, 11-1). He then demonstrated the improvement he has made this year with a three-two win against the China’s World no.7 and recent Asian Para Games champion Zhao Yi Qing, withstanding a brave recovery (12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7).
“I’m very happy. I had a lot of confidence going in and was focused on my movement because that has been going well and that came into the matches and made me play really well. This has probably been my best year in table tennis, beating top players and reaching a few finals so that has given me confidence and belief to know I can do well. I’m just going to keep focused and carry on fighting.” Ashley Facey Thompson
Men’s Class 10
Kim Daybell started his competition with a three-nil win against the Pan American champion from Brazil, Claudio Massad (11-7, 11-5, 13-11) but then lost out in a five game battle against the World number eight Mateo Boheas, the Frenchman proving the stronger (7-11, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-8).
“I thought Boheas played quite well but I was too negative and just didn’t go for the opportunities when they were there; my performance was just not good enough. I will try to forget about that one and move on to the next game and do my best. Kim Daybell
Women’s Class 4
Megan Shackleton started her first World Championships with a match against the Paralympic and European champion Borislava Peric-Rankovic. The 19 year old put up a great fight, she was beaten in four games (11-13, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7).
“I think for my first Worlds to draw the current Paralympic champion was always going to be a challenge. I think I managed to compose my nerves really well out there and to get three-one against someone so highly ranked in my class is promising for the future. I’m just showing now that I do have that ability under pressure to make the right decisions and hopefully in the future such games will start coming my way. I can take a lot of positives from this and I’m really enjoying playing out here so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” Megan Shackleton
Meanwhile, Sue Gilroy began with three-one win against the wild card from Australia, Lisa Di Toro (11-8, 13-11, 3-11, 11-5) but then found World number three Sandra Mikolaschek just too strong, the 21 year old German took their match in straight games (11-9, 12-10, 11-7).
“Everything I did Mikolaschek had an answer. She’s just playing really well. I did play a lot better than this morning but I just couldn’t get near her today. I’m never as good at the beginning of a tournament, I always get better as the tournament goes on, so tomorrow is another day and hopefully I can play a lot better than I have done today.” Sue Gilroy
Women’s Class 6
In her first World Championships Fliss Pickard could not have picked a tougher opponent than World no.1 Marina Lytovchenko, the Ukrainian who has won gold in Slovakia, Slovenia and China this year.
However, the 26 year old kept battling and was far from disgraced in a three-one loss (14-12, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4).
“She’s definitely got a lot more experience than me. She’s been to Paralympics and she’s the top player in class 6 this season with a lot of good wins against classes above her as well, so she’s very good. I felt I played fine, my level wasn’t great in technical terms but I’m happy with my attitude and the way I kept fighting for every single point.” Fliss Pickard
The final group matches will be played on Thursday 19th October with the knockout stages played on Friday and Saturday.
2018 World Para Championships: Results and Draws