Krysten Coombs at the World Championships in Basel (credit Badminton Photo)
The English rivalry
Date: 9/27/2019 10:50 AM
Published by : Bobby Griffin

The best of friends and the greatest of rivals, Coombs and Shephard meet in the China International semifinal tomorrow.

England’s Jack Shephard and Krysten Coombs have been world ranked one and two for so long. It is an excruciating thought that only one of them will go to the Paralympics in Tokyo next summer.

The Para badminton World Championships in the middle of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics qualifying period would be the worst time to suffer a drop in form, but for Krysten Coombs that is exactly what happened.

To reach the quarterfinals and no further in Basel last month, and again in Thailand last week, has dropped Coombs to number five in the world rankings, and number three in the "Road to Tokyo" rankings. He was above Jack Shephard in the Paralympic ranking before the World Championships and now Shephard leads the world in both lists.

Surprisingly, this is the first time these two great SS6 men’s singles players will meet since the qualifying for Tokyo 2020 started at the beginning of the 2019 calendar. With a smaller field of players this week, slightly fewer points will be available for all finishing positions, but for these two men there is a lot more at stake than just the value of these ranking points.

Krysten Coombs must beat Shephard and at least reach the final to have any chance of staying in the race for that Paralympic qualifying position. Crucially there is only one guaranteed spot for a Team GB representative to get to that flagship event in Japan next year.

Read: Busy day for the Danes

‘Bring it on!’

We spoke with Krysten Coombs today shortly after his quarterfinal, he had this to say:

- I’m delighted with the win today first of all. I played him in Thailand last week in the knockouts and so I knew what I needed to do to beat him again. My tactics were good and I played much better today than I did yesterday in my last group match which went to three.

- Jack and I haven’t played against each other this year. He’s leading the "Race to Tokyo" rankings now, where I was ahead of him before the World Champs. I need to catch some points back up, that I lost at the Worlds and last week in Thailand.

- I hope my performance today shows I’m back in form, so this semifinal tomorrow is going to be a big one for both of us. Bring it on! 

Follow the China Para-Badminton International 2019 on tournament software here

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