21st July 2014
Davis makes first Worlds quarterfinal for eleven years
The senior World Championships continued yesterday in Kazan, Russia with an 8.30am start for the men and women’s individual foil events.
Natalia Sheppard was Great Britain’s sole representative in this event, joining a field of eighty-six. Five victories out of six in the first round saw her progress directly to the round of 64 where she faced Jeszenszky (HUN). After losing the first hit Sheppard took complete control of the fight and went on to win impressively, 15-4. Innes Boubakri (TUN), the world number five was her opponent in the round of 32. The Tunisian went 6-0 up by the middle of the second period and despite an aggressive display from Sheppard, Boubakri went on to win 15-4.
Innes Boubakri went on to make the semi-finals where she faced Martina Batini (ITA) and the Tunisian took the initiative, quickly going 5-0 up. Batini adjusted her distance and that was enough for her to take the lead 13-12 at the first break. The Italian went on to win 15-12. In the second semi-final between two Italians, Valentina Vezzali and Arianna Errigo, the counter-attacking approach from Vezzali took her to an early 7-4 lead. Her trademark stop-hit with a front foot hop was the dominant feature of the early part of the fight. Despite showing signs of frustration Errigo opened the distance which gave her more room to land her attacks and that was enough to take a 15-10 victory.
The final between Batini and Errigo was a desperately tense affair with neither fencer seemingly keen on taking the risk of going too far behind the other. In the blink of an eye the match changed entirely and Errigo stormed to the World Championship title with a 15-7 victory.
GB placing: Sheppard 26th.
The second event of the day was the men’s foil individual where 132 fencers, which included James Davis, Marcus Mepstead, Richard Kruse & Alex Tofalides. Ranked in the world’s top 16, Davis did not need to qualify for the medal-day. Mepstead and Tofalides both won three of their six first round matches meaning that they earned byes directly to the second of two preliminary knockout fights. Kruse’s first round performance (V5D1) was enough to progress directly to the round of 64. Mepstead went on to beat Santos (POR) 15-7 to join Davis and Kruse but Perez (VEN) knocked Tofalides out with a 15-14 victory.
In the round of 64, Davis beat Poscharnig (AUT) 15-11 but Mepstead lost 15-11 to Choupenitch (CZE) and Bachmann (GER) knocked Kruse out with a 15-8 win. Davis went on to beat Perrier (BRA) 15-12 and Rajski (POL) 15-10 to become Great Britain’s first World Championship quarterfinalist in eleven years. There he faced world number two, Enzo Lefort (FRA), who was on amazing form all day. The French fencer controlled the fight and went into the semi-finals with a 15-6 victory. Davis’ performance ensured that he finished the season with a world ranking of six.
The other story of this event was the surprisingly demise of the Italian men’s foilists. Valerio Aspromonte and Andrea Baldini both went out in the round of 64 to Byk (BLR) and Or (ISR) respectively. Andrea Cassara followed them out of the competition in the round of 32 losing to M. Kim (KOR).
Two spectacular semi-finals followed both including fencers from Russia. In the first Lefort dominated the early part of the fight over Alexey Cherimisinov going 4-0 up. The Russian went on the attack and stormed to a 15-8 win. In the second semi-final, world number one, Jianfei Ma (CHN) faced world number sixty, Timur Safin (RUS). After two well prepared and successful attacks, Safin sniffed his opportunity and upped the pace, quickly taking a 6-1 lead. Ma suddenly came to life and started to attack himself. He trailed 8-6 at the break but the momentum had clearly shifted to the Chinese fencer who went on to win 15-14. In the final the Russian was intent on putting in a good performance on home soil and his aggressive display saw him go 9-2 up. His tactic of following up every lunge attack with a forward recovery and continuation consistently brought up single lights in his favour. Then, without reason, he appeared to decide to change his approach and slowed the fight down. Ma started a comeback and within a minute had closed to 10-6 down. Cheremisinov, inspired by his coach, returned to his original gameplan and took the title with a 15-11 win.
GB Individual placings: Davis 6th, Kruse 38th, Mepstead 56th & Tofalides 81st.
The sixth day will feature individual events in men’s and women’s epee.