Seven British players to play for singles medals in Czech Open
The British team is assured of at least four singles medals in the Czech Para Open in Ostrava with Fliss Pickard (women’s class 6), Tom Matthews (men’s class 1) and Paul Karabardak (men’s class 6) through to the semi-finals, while Will Bayley (men’s class 7), Billy Shilton (men’s class 8) and Joshua Stacey (men’s class 9) play their quarterfinals tomorrow and Sue Bailey will play for gold in the round-robin women’s class 4 singles.
Women’s class 4
Sue Bailey was taken to a deciding fifth set in her first match when Ena Miyazaki from Japan fought back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 before Bailey secured a 3-2 win, 11-7 in the fifth. She was a comfortable 3-0 winner against Jana Valentova from Slovakia and won her third match against Spomenka Habetinkova Tomic from Czech Republic, the bronze medallist in last year’s Czech Para Open, 3-0. She will take gold in the round-robin event if she beats the former World & European medallist from Serbia Zorica Popadic tomorrow.
Women’s class 6
Fliss Pickard started with a 3-0 win against Emelie Endre from Sweden, bronze medallist in last year’s French Para Open, but had to fight hard in her second match against 20-year-old Morgen Caillaud from France. The World number eight who lost to Pickard in the final of the Costa Brava Spanish Open earlier this year was 2-0 down but edged the third set 12-10 and then levelled at 2-2 before Pickard took the deciding set 11-6 for a 3-2 win. She won her final match against Eirini Drakonaki from Greece 3-0 and will play Cajsa Stadler from Sweden in the semi-finals.
Men’s class 1
In only his second tournament since winning his fourth consecutive European singles title Rob Davies was a 3-1 winner against the in-form Alan Papirer from France, gold medallist in both the Egypt Para Open and Al-Watani Para Championships this season. He lost his second match 3-0 to Timo Natunen from Finland, who took silver in the Paralympic World Qualification Tournament last year but progressed to the quarterfinals where he faced the Korean Hakjin Kim, gold medallist in the French Para Open in 2021. Davies had four points to win the first set but could not convert any of them and after Kim had edged the set 14-12 he took the next two 11-8 for a 3-0 win.
Tom Matthews was a 3-0 winner against Marian Kamien from Slovakia, bronze medallist in last year’s Paralympic World Qualification Tournament, and followed that with a 3-0 win against the European bronze medallist from Switzerland Sylvio Keller. That ensured he finished top of his group and he received a bye into tomorrow’s semi-finals where he will play Kim.
Men’s class 6
In his first tournament since Tokyo Paul Karabardak started slowly, dropping a close first set 12-10 to
Michael Azulay, the former European team medallist from Sweden, and edging the second set 14-12 before completing a 3-1 win. The Welshman followed that with a 3-1 win against Valentin Kneuss from Switzerland and finished top of his group after a 3-1 win against Takuro Chihara from Japan. In the quarterfinal he recovered from losing the first set to beat 21-year-old Haris Eminovic from Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1, 13-11 in the fourth to book his place in the semi-finals.
Martin Perry came through a tough opening match against Benedikt Muller, the European team bronze medallist who took gold in the Al-Watani Para Championships in Jordan last month. Perry led 2-0 but the 18-year-old German fought back to level and take it into a deciding set that Perry took 11-7 for a 3-2 win. The Scot has had some close battles with European team bronze medallist Esteban Herrault this season, the Frenchman winning in Spain but Perry having his revenge in Slovenia. Today it was Herrault who came out on top in a 3-1 win but Perry progressed to the knockout stages after a 3-0 win against the silver medallist in the Al-Watani Para Championships last month Eleftherios Mavris from Greece. In the quarterfinal he came up against the very experienced Raimondo Alecci and after taking the first set 11-3 the Italian, competing in his first tournament since taking silver in the Costa Brava Spanish Open in 2020, took the next two 12-10 for a 3-0 win.
Men’s class 7
Will Bayley won his first match against the former Hungarian Open champion Christian Scheiber from Austria 3-0 but had a tougher match against the German Henrik Meyer, bronze medallist in the Costa Brava Spanish Open in March. After edging the first set 12-10 Bayley lost the second 11-8 before taking the third 11-7 and the fourth 11-2 for a 3-1 win. He lost only six points in a 3-0 win against debutant Milan Antic from Serbia and as group winner received a bye into the quarterfinals tomorrow where he will play Daniel Horut from Czech Republic.
Men’s class 8
Billy Shilton began with a comfortable 3-0 win against Alejandro Diaz from Spain, the 20-year-old bronze medallist in the Costa Brava Spanish Open last year and was then involved in a great battle with Gyula Zborai from Hungary. Shilton led 2-0 but the former World number two and multi-World and European team medallist used all his experience to work his way back into the match, winning the third set then edging the fourth set 12-10 to level before taking the deciding fifth set 11-9 for a 3-2 win. Shilton won his final group match against 15-year-old Borna Zohil from Croatia 3-1 which took him through to the last 16 where he played Steffen Salomonsen from Norway, the former European Para Your Games silver medallist, and a 3-0 win earned him a quarterfinal match tomorrow against Maksym Nikolenko from Ukraine.
Men’s class 9
Joshua Stacey started well with a 3-0 win against Tigran Petrosyan from Armenia and followed it up with a 3-0 win against Lucas Didier from France, the 18-year-old gold medallist in the French Para Open last year. A 3-0 win against Dawid Sowa from Poland, competing for the first time since the Slovakia Open in 2016, ensured that he topped his group and received a bye into the quarterfinals tomorrow.