15 Mar 2019

Success for Great Britain’s Rob Davies and Germany’s Thomas Schmidberger but on Friday 15th March at the 2019 Para Lignano Open, in the men’s singles wheelchair categories they were the only top seeded players to emerge the winners.

Furthermore, they very nearly came to grief.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Competing in class 1, following success against Argentina’s Fernando Eberhardt (9-11, 11-9, 12-10, 12-10); at the final hurdle Rob Davies, the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games gold medallist, was severely tested by the host nation’s Federico Falco. Determined, he recovered from a two games to nil deficit to gain success by the very narrowest of margins (7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7, 13-11).

“It was a really big achievement to beat those two guys that I lost to last year and a big boost to my morale. I’m really happy that I came back in the final and proved to everyone that I can win from that position; this is just a stepping stone and I’ve got to keep improving but it does give me confidence because it shows that I can compete at the top level again. Now I can push on and hopefully get back to where I was after Rio.” Rob Davies

Thomas Schmidberger, the men’s class 3 winner (Photo: courtesy of Para Lignano Open)


Similarly, Thomas Schmidberger was severely examined by colleague Thomas Brüchle. He need the full five games to gain success (11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8).

“Playing Thomas Brüchle we know each other from the training camps so it’s always a very tactical game. The key in the final was that I could play with top spin and open the game. Here I was the winner of the tournament and this win makes me very happy. I am satisfied with my game, we are only in the middle of March, it’s getting better and better but it’s not perfect. I would like to be in my best shape at the European Championships. In the last edition I won gold medals in singles and team and I hope to retain them.” Thomas Schmidberger

Valentin Baus, successful in men’s singles class 5 (Photo: courtesy of Para Lignano Open)


Titles for Rob Davies and Thomas Schmidberger as status anticipated; for Poland’s Rafal Czuper, Thailand’s Wanchai Chaiwut and Germany’s Valentin Baus, it was the top prize contrary to status.

The no.2 seed, Rafal Czuper emerged successful in class 2 accounting for Korea Republic’s Cha Sooying, the no.5 seed, in the final (8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9), after having nearly disappeared from view in the semi-final. He lost the opening two games against Serbia’s Goran Perlic before recovering to secure the fifth by the minimal margin (9-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-9).

“Happy with the win but I played badly. I won only thanks to my head, not to my hand. I was not ready for this tournament because I had a problem with my stomach. Ten days ago I went to hospital to see if I could come here. I really did not expect to win. The key moment of my tournament was in the semi-final against Goran Perlic. I was 2-0 down and recovered 2-2. In the fifth game I started 0-4. This was my best match here in Lignano.” Rafael Czuper

Rafal Czuper survived testing times to win men’s singles class 2 (Photo: courtesy of Para Lignano Open)


Meanwhile, Cha Sooying was a player very much in form. At the quarter-final stage he had beaten Frenchman Fabien Lamirault, the top seed (16-14, 11-5, 5-11, 13-11), prior to one round later ousting Brazil’s Guilherme Marcio da Costa, the no.7 seed (10-12, 11-9, 11-2, 11-5).

Similarly, in class 5 it was success for the no.2 seed; in the title decider, Valentin Baus overcame Serbia’s Mitar Palikuca, the top seed (11-5, 11-5, 11-7).

Silver the colour of the medal for Mitar Palikuca (Photo: courtesy of Para Lignano Open)


Surprise winners but only minor surprises; in class 4 the level of the upset was somewhat greater.

Thailand’s Wanchai Chaiwut claimed the top prize, the no.5 seed, in the final he beat Slovakia’s Peter Mihalik (11-7, 11-8, 11-3), like Cho Sooyong, very much a player in the zone. At the quarter-final stage he had ousted Frenchman Maxime Thomas, the top seed, (2-11, 12-10, 18-16, 15-13) prior to overcoming Korea Republic’s Lee Kyonghun to reserve his place in the final.

Bronze for Lee Kyonghun in men’s singles class 5 (Photo: courtesy of Para Lignano Open)


Men’s team events now follow, play in Lignano concludes on Saturday 16th March.

Lignano Masters Open: Draw and Full Results

Paralympics Para Table Tennis 2019 Lignano Para Open Rob Davies Thomas SCHMIDBERGER