by Ian Marshall, Editor
Pride of place went to Bobi Simion. Competing in class 6, the no.2 seed, the previous day he had been beaten by Great Britain’s Martin Perry (11-9, 11-9, 11-7). One day later he accounted for Chile’s Matias Pino Lorca (4-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-5) to secure the title. Notably in the semi-final round each ended British hopes. Bobi Simion beat David Wetherill, the top seed (11-9, 11-6, 11-9) and quarter-final winner in opposition to Germany’s Geoff Rau; Matias Pino Lorca halted the adventures of Martin Perry ( 7-1, 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7).
“The quarter-final was spot-on but unfortunately I injured my back which made the semi-final a bit of a non-event.” David Wetherill
Gold for the second seed, it was the same for Mohamed Amine Kalem in class 9 as it was for Filip Radovic in class 10. After recording s semi-final success against Sweden’s Daniel Gustafsson (11-9, 11-9, 11-9), Mohamed Amine Kalem overcame Great Britain’s Josh Stacey by the very narrowest of decisions to retain the title won one year ago (11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 13-10); Filip Radovic struck gold at the expense of Frenchman Matteo Boheas (8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).
“In the final I fought till the last point. I came to Lignano to win and defend my title, all worked well. Also in the semi-final I felt I played well. Gustafsson is a defensive player and in the past I have had some problems against him; this time I changed my tactics; I was not in a hurry to close the points. My patience made the difference.” Mohamed Amine Kalem
Earlier, in each event, the top seeds had fallen in the semi-final round. Tal Leibovitz had lost to Josh Stacey (11-4, 11-13, 11-6, 11-9), Great Britain’s Kim Daybell had suffered at the hands of Mateo Boheas (11-9, 11-9, 14-16, 9-11, 11-5).
“I felt I performed a lot better in the final and brought some things into the match that I had worked on in the previous match when we played. Of course I’m disappointed to have lost but to be competing with the best players in the world is a good sign for the upcoming year and towards Tokyo qualification.” Josh Stacey
Somewhat surprise outcomes but not as big as in class 11; not listed amongst the leading names, Chile’s Marco Aqueveque emerged the surprise winner. In the final he overcame Antoine Zhao, like Mateo Boheas from France; a straight games win being the order of the day. Notably, in the penultimate round, Antoine Zhao had ousted Poland’s Marek Chybinski, the top seed (13-15, 12-10, 5-11, 13-11, 11-5).
Problems for top seeded names; it was not the situation for Will Bayley nor for Viktor Didukh. In a hard fought contest Viktor Didukh secured class 8 gold. In the title decider he recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Thailand’s Phisit Wangphonphathanasiri, the no.7 seed (9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-4).
Equally, there were testing times for Will Bayley against a familiar adversary. In a repeat of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games final, he secured the class 7 title at the expense of Brazil’s Israel Pereira Stroh, the no.2 seed (11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-3).
“I played solid but not as well as I have been in training. It’s good to win when you are not playing at your best. I’ve been training so hard and I set myself a target to win gold this year so I’m so happy to win the Italian Open.” Will Bayley
Play in the men’s team events now follow, proceedings in Lignano conclude on Saturday 16th March.
Lignano Masters Open: Draw and Full Results