Germany’s Valentin Baus avenged his Rio straight games loss to China’s Cao Ningning by defeating the latter in an absorbing five games 11-4, 7-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-7 to clinch gold in the men’s singles class 5 final in Tokyo 2020.
“I don’t think there was any big difference to Rio, just one or two vital points. At the moment I’m so happy, I cannot describe the feeling,” said an ecstatic Baus.
The tooth and nail battle saw Baus save a match point in the fourth, after letting a 10-6 lead slip and saw him lose five points on the trot.
“I had to concentrate hard in the fifth. I started to return the ball better and then he made some mistakes. It’s just amazing, I’m lost for words,” added Baus, who was in complete control in the deciding fifth game. After swelling the lead to 8-3, Baus had five match points and he was too good let that opportunity miss. Today my attacking play was stronger than in Rio,“ added Baus.
Ningning acknowledged that the European paddlers are fast catching up.
“Every country is placing more emphasis (on Para sports). They are training more and the gap is closing. Their threat is greater. These two years, we haven’t been competing internationally.
"Compared to the Europeans, we are getting into the competition rhythm slower. During the pandemic, they are still competing.”
In the women’s singles class 4 action, Zhou Ying defeated Bhavinaben Patel of India in straight games 11-7, 11-6, 11-6. Ying had beaten Patel in the preliminary rounds as well with a straight-games 11-3, 11-9, 11-2 win.
“She plays close to the table so I tried to hit my shots really deep so that the balls that come back are not so fast and strong. And then I will try to attack that ball if I can. That strategy worked well. I also tried to hit short balls to her forehand wing. I made some changes (after we played in the group stage),” revealed Ying.
China's Yan Shuo recovered from a game down to beat Great Britain’s Will Bayley 4-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-8 in the men’s singles class 7 finals.
“After losing the first game, I still felt tight in the second. At the end, where I was trailing, I told myself that if I continued doing what I was doing, the outcome wouldn’t be good. So I had to grit my teeth and try to attack when I could. I knew I had to dare to attack,” said Shuo adding, “Very happy. Very emotional.”
Bayley felt his loss in the second game after leading by a point (9-8) proved costly in the end.
“I think if I won that game (second) I could have probably went on to win the match, but to be fair to him, he fought very hard and he deserved to win today, fair play.
“It was such a difficult match for me. He threw everything at me. It was mentally very, very difficult to play that match because it was so close.”