Tuesday, August 20, 2019
TEXT BY GEETHANJALI LAKSHMAYYA | ALAN SPINK
Lucas Mazur of France took his first step towards retaining his 2017 World Champion title when he defeated Russia’s Pavel Kulikov on day one of the TOTAL BWF Para-Badminton World Championships 2019,
After winning the men’s singles SL4 match 21-15 21-13, Lucas said: “I was not completely comfortable playing in this hall and I made some mistakes which means I now need to figure out what went wrong and how not to repeat them in the next matches.”
With a successful start to the year, Mazur confirmed his physically fit form, adding that he is also mentally confident and happy to be back on court after the last few tournaments.
His hopes of winning two titles in Basel however, were dashed when he and mixed doubles partner Faustine Noel lost their SL3-SU5 match to Sweden’s Rickard Nilsson and Norway’s Helle Sofie Sagoy 17-21 21-15 19-21.
“Yes, I was looking for two titles. We worked a lot to be here but unfortunately, she is injured so she needs to rest and get better. I am looking forward to this week and I will focus on my singles,” Mazur added.
One Year and Going Strong
In the wheelchair mixed doubles (WH1-2) Konstantin Afinogenov of Russia and Emine Seckin of Turkey defeated India’s Sanjeev Kumar and Belgium’s To Man Kei 21-16 21-17.
Doubles partners since the European Para- Badminton Championships 2018, the pair only meet and compete during tournaments. The lack of training opportunities outside competition however, does not seem to affect their performance as they displayed a well-coordinated game in the first match for Group B.
“I was a little nervous because it was the first match and it got a bit difficult along the way but we won. Our plan is to top our group and take it from there,” said Afinogenov.
Another year-old partnership that seems to be working out well is Swiss duo Marc Elmer/Cynthia Mathez who beat Mikhail Bilenki of Canada and Brazil’s Maria Gildo Dos Santos 21-6 21-6, in the mixed doubles (WH1-2).
Having played only two tournaments this year, Elmer had only a short time to catch up but gathered enough points to qualify for the World Championships.
“I’m happy with the facilities here and I feel good for this week,” said Elmer, who is currently having to divide his time between badminton and studying for a university degree.
In the men’s singles (SL3), a disappointed Pascal Wolter of Germany explained his 10-21 18-21 loss to Olesandr Chyrkov: “I made many mistakes in the first game. I was not really in the game and played too many shots that allowed him to smash. I felt I had better control in the second game but he is an aggressive player with strong smashes and I didn’t get the right control to send the shuttle back over the net.”
Chan Ho Yuen of Hong Kong China and Korea’s Kim Jungjun won their respective wheelchair men’s singles WH2 matches. Chan’s defeated Daiki Kajiwara of Japan 21-9 21-13 while Japan’s Atsuya Watanabe fell to Kim, 10-21 6-21
In the longest match of the morning, Malaysia’s Muhammad Huzairi Abdul Malek battled it out for 90 minutes against Ukun Rukaendi of Indonesia before succumbing 21-16 14-21 19-21, in the men’s singles standing lower (SL3).
“It was difficult to move quickly. The back pain, which is lumbago, affects my leg. The leg muscles tense up and that causes more pain in my back. It just goes round in a cycle and I need to get this treated properly once I go home to France. But I intend to stay here this week to support my team and I am sure Lucas will win.” – Faustine Noel on her performance today.