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
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
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
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).
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.
Men’s team events now follow, play in Lignano concludes on Saturday 16th March.
Lignano Masters Open: Draw and Full Results