On the opening day of play at the Finland Para Open in Lahti, the men’s singles wheelchair category events witnessed surprises; that policy continued on the second day of action, Saturday 10th September.
Japan’s Masanori Uno, Frenchman François Geuljans and Slovakia’s Boris Travincek all emerged unexpected winners.
Masanori Uno secured class 2 gold accounting for Frenchman Julien Michaud in the final (11-9, 11-5, 11-2), the semi-final winner against Spain’s Vincente Reyes, the top seed (11-9, 11-3, 11-4).
Silver for France, in class 3 it was gold and silver; François Geuljans overcame top seeded colleague, Sylvain Noel (8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6) to claim the top prize.
Likewise in class 4, France was very much in evidence; Emeric Martin recorded a penultimate round win against Slovakia’s top seeded, Peter Mihalik (11-8, 11-6, 11-5) but in the final experienced defeat when opposing Slovakia’s Boris Travincek (11-9, 11-9, 16-14).
Conversely, for Great Britain’s Rob Davies in class 1 and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Ming-Chih in class 5, it was success as their top seed position advised; both returning to form.
In the group stage, Rob Davies had lost to Korea Republic’s Kim Hakjin (11-13, 11-4, 11-8, 11-9); in the final they met again, the British player resisting a brave recovery to turn the tables (11-6, 11-8, 10-12, 8-11, 12-10).
“It was a tough match to come through after going 2-0 up. It would have been easier to win 3-0 but I think I probably learnt more from winning 3-2 to be honest. I’m really chuffed with getting more wins this tournament and I’m feeling more like my old self mentally and physically. I just need to keep the energy up and I managed to do that in that last match.” Rob Davies
Meanwhile, for Cheng Ming-Chih, it was slightly different. In the final he beat Germany’s Bart Brands (11-7, 11-4, 11-9), the victor against Korea Republic’s Park Jaehyun one round earlier (11-4, 12-14, 11-8, 3-11, 11-6). The previous day Cheng Ming-Chih had lost to Park Jaehyun in straight games (11-8, 11-8, 11-9).
Upsets in the wheelchair men’s classes, the corresponding standing events proved more predictable but there was a mild surprise. In class 6, Michael Azulay of France, the no.2 seed, secured the top prize at the expense of Great Britain’s Paul Karabardak, the top seed (9-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7).
Silver for Paul Karabardak, for colleague Will Bayley, it was one step higher in class 7, the top seeded place justified. Moreover, it means he returns to no.1 on the class 7 World rankngs
“It was difficult because I was expected to win here and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Every tournament is difficult now wherever you go so it is always good to win. I had it in my mind that I was trying to get back to World number one probably too much in the last few months as I haven’t been there since 2019. So I thought just go for it in the final and play the way you can. I played my best level in the final so it was really good.” Will Bayley
Likewise, Sweden’s Emil Andersson (class 8)and Chinese Taipei’s Sun Jin-Sian (class 10), emerged winners as their status advised, a situation that applied also Belgium’s Laurens Devos (class 9) and Florian Van Acker (class 11).
Unexpected outcomes in the men’s events; it was somewhat similar for the women.
In class 6-7, Norway’s Nora Korneliussen beat Sweden’s Cajsa Stadler, the top seed (11-5, 11-5, 11-6); in class 11, Poland’s Ewa Cychowska, who started play as the fourth rated player in an event involving five players competing in a group organised event, emerged the winner.
Otherwise in the women’s singles events, the most prominent names prevailed. Korea Republic’s Jung Younga secured class 1-5 gold, Norway’s Aida Dahlen clamed the class 8 title, Chinese Taipei’s Tian Shiau-Wen emerged the class 9-10 winner.
Attention now turns to the men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles event; proceedings conclude on Sunday 11th September.