28 Aug 2021

An electric atmosphere, sheer drama, colleagues on the edges of their seats defending champion, Great Britain’s Will Bayley booked his place in men’s singles class 7 final at the Tokyo Paralympic Games on the late morning of Saturday 28th August.

Saving one match point in the deciding fifth game, he withstood a spirited recovery by China’s Liao Keli to book his place in the gold medal contest (11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8).

by Ian Marshall

Somewhat controversially on winning the last point, he attempted to hurdle the court surrounds to greet his teammates; realizing that he was not in the same league as Javier Sotomayor he resorted to kicking over the offending barrier.

Perhaps his antics could be compared with those of a more athletic Zhang Jike, when he leapt the surrounds to worship the top step of the podium after winning the last point in the London 2012 Olympic Games men’s singles final.

Equally, the destruction of the court surrounds at the Liebherr 2014 Men’s World Cup came to mind; however, Will Bayley damaged nothing, but is it the correct way to behave?

Should players not shake hands with their opponent before they kiss and cuddle the coach of perform any other antics of so-called celebration. Perhaps I’m from a byegone era, the Olympic spirit.

“It was pure relief and surprise as well because there were thoughts going through my mind at some points in that match that I had thrown it away. It is impossible to not have those thoughts but I tried to get my focus back during those times. I showed some real guts at the end and I played some really big points because Keli didn’t stop. I was expecting him to stop playing so well but he didn’t; after two sets down he just blew me away so it was difficult.

He’s improved so much; he is not the same player I played in Rio, he is a better player now. I knew that before I played him as I’ve seen him in training here. He is a world class player and I knew I was going to have to be at my best. I managed to win but it was tough.” Will Bayley

To reach three consecutive Paralympic finals is a superb achievement and win or lose tomorrow Bayley can be incredibly proud.

“I used to laugh at Jochen Wollmert because in his career he’s got to five Paralympic finals and that still seems impossible so to get to three is amazing. I know that I might never get this chance again so I need to really enjoy tomorrow. I know this is my moment to really enjoy it and that’s what I am going to try and do.” Will Bayley

In the final, Will Bayley meets Yan Shuo, like Liao Keli from China; in the penultimate he accounted for Poland’s Maksym Chudzicki (11-4, 12-10, 11-7).

The finalists known in men’s singles class 7, as play advanced on the early afternoon of the fourth day of play, it was the same in men’s singles class 2 and class 9, as it was in women’s singles class 1-2, class 8 and class 9.

At the semi-final stage, in men’s singles class 2, it was defeat for Korea Republic. Poland’s Rafal Czuper beat Park Jincheol (11-2, 4-11, 11-8, 11-9), Frenchman Fabien Lamirault seeking to repeat his Rio de Janeiro success, overcame Cha Sooyong (11-7, 11-4, 10-12, 11-5).

Hard earned wins, it was the same in class 9. China’s Ma Lin overcame Ukraine’s Ivan Mai (12-10, 7-11, 11-6, 11-5), Belgium’s Laurens Devos dented the aspirations of Russia’s Iurii Nozdrunov (11-8, 8-11, 11-1, 11-13, 11-4).

Meanwhile, at the same stage in the women’s events, in class 1-2, China’s Liu Jing overcame Russia’s Nadezhda Pushpasheva (11-8, 11-4, 8-11, 11-5), Korea Republic’s Seo Su Yeon defeated Brazil’s Catia da Silva Oliveira (7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9).

Progress for Liu Jing, in class 8 and class 9 it was progress for colleagues.

In class 8, at the semi-final stage Mao Jingdian beat Norway’s Aida Dahlen (11-2, 11-3, 11-5), Huang Wenjuan accounted for Thu Kamkasomphu of France (11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 11-5).

Similarly, in class 9, Xiong Guiyan beat Poland’s Karoline Pek (11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7); Lei Li Na overcame Hungary’s Alexa Svitacs (12-14, 11-13, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6).

The men’s singles class 7 and class 9 finals will be played later today as will the women’s singles class 1-2 and class 9 gold medal contests; the women’s singles class 8 final will be staged on Sunday, the men’s singles class 2 decider on Monday.

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