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Will Bayley's blog

The latest blog from our sponsored Paralympian table tennis world champion


I missed five weeks of training in February and March because I had a problem with my ankle so I didn't compete at the National Championships or in Italy. My first week back in training in April we went to Slovakia for a camp with some sparring partners from Serbia and Slovakia - it was a really good week with lots of hard training and practice and it helped a lot.

 

My first competition of the season was the Slovenia Open at the beginning of May. Overall I played quite well - I was consistent in most of my matches and I was pleased with the way I played. I beat the European champion Popov in the semi -final and played really good against him. He is difficult and puts a lot of spin on the ball and is powerful as well - he hits the ball quite hard compared to me. If I play cleverly I know I have a chance against him but I find it difficult when he is really hitting the ball hard so it was a good win.

 

The final against Nikolenko (World number one) was a good game and could have gone either way but I lost it 3-2. I played two sets unbelievably well against him - I was up in the fourth and flying and I should have finished it then but when it went to a fifth he played really well and I was thinking my chance had gone and never really got going.

 

In the team competition I played for the first time with Billy Shilton and we beat a lot of top teams including Spain in the final which was an unbelievable win because Spain are a great team and the World champions in class 7 so it was a great performance by Billy especially. He is only 16 years old but he is an exciting young talent.

 

I had a few days off after Slovenia and then spent two weeks training in Sheffield. Most of the team went to Slovakia but I didn't go as Gorazd (GB Performance Director) wanted to break it up for me so I didn't have to do consecutive tournaments as I have struggled with that in the past.

 

I had a few days training with the squad when they got back from Slovakia and then we went out to Germany. I didn't have a great competition - I seem to have one tournament every year especially in the middle of the season when I am not at my best and it happened here. I never really felt comfortable - when I am at my best I do feel like I can play better than that I just feel like it wasn't my tournament for a few reasons.

 

I lost in the singles to a new Chinese player Shuo Yan - he stays up to the table and plays very cleverly and reads the way I play very well. I felt like I had massive chances against him the second time I played him but I didn't take them. The second time we played I felt like I was in charge - I missed a few balls but I didn't feel he was making me make mistakes I was just not playing as well as I can do. I know if I put that right in training then I can hopefully turn that result around and I feel I have tactics to beat him next time.

 

Billy and I beat China in the semi-finals of the team competition which was another great win. I beat Keli Liao but when I lost to Yan in the second singles I thought it might be game over - not because I don't believe in Billy because I do but he pulled off a great win against Liao who is World number six and it was a fantastic result to beat them. We had a great win in the doubles because they are good at doubles so I was really pleased with that result particularly.

 

We played Ukraine in the final and I beat both Popov and Nikolenko which was brilliant as we are the three best players in the world in class 7 on our day and to beat them both in a couple of hours is a great result. Again I didn't feel I was playing that well but I managed to tactically play well and you learn a lot when you are not playing well because you have to play cleverly and I think I did do that.

 

I know I am not in my best shape or playing my best table tennis yet but I always prepare better for a major and it is difficult to keep your level up for a whole year. Although I under performed in Germany it wasn't all bad as I beat the two Ukrainians, Billy got his win against Liao - and Arsenal won the FA Cup! I didn't get to see the match as we were at the medal ceremony but I got someone to tape it for me and I'm looking forward to watching it.

 

So I finished on a very positive note and I'm looking forward to training hard now for the Europeans in October.