There were mixed fortunes for ParalympicsGB’s badminton stars in Tokyo this morning as Dan Bethell sealed his place in the knockout rounds while Jack Shephard and Martin Rooke bowed out.
Bethell, who began his campaign with a convincing straight sets victory over Daisuke Fujihara on Wednesday, returned to the court to take on Indonesian world no.4 Ukun Rukaendi knowing a win would see him top Group B in the SL3 competition.
The 25-year-old flew out the blocks to take the first set 21-8 and though he briefly fell behind in the second, he quickly turned the deficit around and went on to win it 21-12.
Bethell again had to come through some lengthy rallies, the longest of which lasted 59 shots, but the victory in 46 minutes was enough to book his place in a semi-final against India’s Manoj Sarkar.
“It went well,” Bethell said. “I have played Ukun quite a few times now and he is a very good athlete with great defence, the rallies go on for a long time.
“I was expecting that but felt I had a really good game plan going in. I felt I executed it really well, so I am really pleased with the result.
“I am just looking forward to getting back on court and starting to look at a game plan.”
While Bethell can plan ahead, his compatriot Shephard has been left to reflect on a SH6 group stage exit despite overcoming Chu Man Kai in three sets.
The world no.1 won the opener 21-11 before an epic second set was taken 24-22 by the Hong Kong ace.
Shephard regathered his composure to claim the decider 21-10 but it wasn’t enough to book his place in the latter stages as he finished third in Group A on game differential.
His teammate Krysten Coombs, who won Thursday’s battle of the Brits in straight sets, advances to the knockout stage in second place but Shephard was nonetheless pleased to have shown what he is capable of on the big stage.
“It was exciting today, I really enjoyed it and played well,” he said.
“There was a bit of a patch where I didn’t quite play tactically right which let him in the second set and helped him win the set, but other than that I played some of my best badminton that I’ve come into this tournament doing.
“It’s just a shame I couldn’t do it yesterday but I’m glad I was able to put an end to that and do that today.”
In the WH2 category, Rooke was beaten in straight sets by Hong Kong’s Chan Ho Yuen in his quarter-final.
In a clash which pit the players ranked two and three in the world against one another, the higher-ranked Chan led from the outset and won the first set 21-9 in 15 minutes.
Rooke continued to battle hard in the second but went down 21-11 to end his medal hopes.
The knockout clash concluded a long day for the 48-year-old, who had earlier lost 17-21 16-21 in his final group game against Mai Jianpeng in his final group game.
“I was playing well and I found my range quite well in both sets,” he said when reflecting on the clash with Jianpeng.
“It was just a little bit of impatience on my behalf.
“I just needed to run the shuttle a bit more, because I am one of the fittest boys on the circuit and will keep going and going.
“I should have run him to the ground a bit more, and shown a bit more patience.”
Bethell is the first of the remaining Brits in action in Saturday’s semi-finals, taking on Sarkar at 2.30am (BST) with the men’s SL3 medal matches to follow at 10.30am (BST).
Coombs is also up against Indian opposition, meeting world no.2 Krishna Nagar in the men’s SH6 semi-finals at 5.30am (BST). The medals in this discipline will be decided on Sunday (time tbc).
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