by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Wang Jianan, who gained his place in Rio de Janeiro by reaching the semi-final round of the Men’s Singles event just under one year ago at the Africa Games, emerged successful in four straight games (11-7, 11-9, 11-4, 13-11).
“The atmosphere here is great; I played a match in the morning as well, so I think I was more used to the conditions”, said Wang Jianan. “I have not played with him before, but prior to the match, I had heard about his playing style; I think the cheering from the crowd gave him more pressure. I think it was too much, he didn’t play that well today.”
There was pandemonium from the 5,000 plus crowd, the hall not far from full capacity; it was a situation with which Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall had to cope on the adjacent table. He overcame Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic, like Wang Jianan he was impressive; he won in five games (10-12, 12-10, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5).
“The noise did not affect me at all; I think it affected Alex, I’m not sure but I think he complained to the umpire”, said Paul Drinkhall who had given a most professional performance.
“I felt I was able to control the match by attacking early and by staying close to the table; maybe my focus went down a little at times and when he relaxed he started to play well”, added Paul Drinkhall. “I was able to get back on top and stay on top; today I used by backhand more than usual when playing a left hander.”
First Round Success
Success for Paul Drinkhall and there were also successes, as the first round of the Men’s Singles event concluded for Poland’s Jakub Dyjas, the Slovak Republic’s Wang Yang, Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic.
Jakub Dyjas beat Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre (11-5, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7); Wang Yang defeated Mexico’s Marcos Madrid (11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-6), whilst Ovidiu Ionescu and Bojan Tokic caused Iran heartaches.
Ovidiu Ionescu overcame Iran’s Nima Alamian (11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4), Bojan Tokic ended the hopes of Noshad Alamiyan (11-8, 7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-9).
Meanwhile, to complete matters in the first round of the Men’s Singles event, Adrian Crisan added to Romanian joy by beating India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta (11-8, 14-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8); Egypt’s Omar Assar accounted for Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador (7-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-4).