Rickard Nilsson was all smiles after securing his Standing Lower (SL4) men’s singles semifinal against India’s Tarun Dhillon at the 4th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2022.
“I’m exhausted but relieved,” said the Swede after defeating Thailand’s Siripong Teamarrom 21-19 21-19.
“I last beat him in 2019, but to take this game in two is a great feeling. I’m so sure of myself now, mentally stronger and more confident than ever. I’m motivated to do better and train hard. In Dubai, I’m feeling the tournament spirit.”
In the SL3 men’s singles quarterfinals, India’s Nehal Gupta lost to teammate Pramod Bhagat 21-18 15-21 11-21 but was happy enough to have faced the world No.1 Paralympic gold medallist. Taking the opening game was just an added bonus.
“I feel so good, I had decided to have fun and enjoy the match. I was keen to take the second as well but started tiring and made lots of mistakes,” said Gupta.
Bhagat had only praise for his young opponent: “I lost the first one because I didn’t expect him to be so energetic and skilled. He’s pretty good and will go far.”
Bhagat joins teammates Kumar Nitesh and Manoj Sarkar in the semis, with Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara the fourth contender.
The SL3 women’s singles last four is also dominated by India as Manasi Girishchandra Joshi, Parul Dalsukhbhai Parmar and Mandeep Kaur take three spots with Australia’s Celine Aurelie Vinot looking to crash their party.
In Standing Upper (SU5) men’s singles, Malaysia’s Cheah Liek Hou ousted countryman Mohamad Faris Ahmad Azri 23-21 21-23 21-11 to book a semifinal against Oddie Kurnia Dwi Listianto Putra (Indonesia).
“The last few days I’ve had easy matches. Faris and I know each other well and I allowed myself to be challenged to get back into the rhythm,” said Cheah.
“It’s not been the easiest year. After Tokyo, I took time to enjoy my success but when I was ready for training, I got COVID and it affected me badly. Coming back involved a lot of care with proper diet and supplements. My coaches were worried, but I’m feeling good now.
Mohamad Faris knows where he stands with Cheah.
“We train together and the one quality he has is the ability to keep changing his game plan depending on the opponent and how the match is going. That comes with experience.”
After sweating it out for 85 minutes, Ukun Rukaendi conceded the SL3 men’s singles quarterfinal to Fujihara 7-21 23-21 17-21.
“I allowed myself to get caught up in his game, that’s why I lost the first. Coming back in the second was hard enough then the third, I just couldn’t keep up. He’s young, so energetic. He has so much stamina and just keeps going. It was a matter of age for this one,” said the 52-year-old Indonesian.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“After Tokyo 2020, I competed as part of the Swiss curling team at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games but it’s time to focus on badminton again because the aim is to get to Paris 2024. I have a new partner (Ilaria Renggli) who’s a huge talent. And my previous partner (Karin Suter-erath) is our coach. It’s ideal because she has the experience, knows the sport and me.” – Cynthia Mathez
“Lots of new players just means the sport is growing but I’m not worried about my position. I believe in my abilities to keep playing the best badminton. I plan to get to the World Championships and then Paris 2024.” – Amnouy Wetwithan (Thailand)