25 Aug 2016

Now two decades of the ITTF World Tour but in that time only four Frenchmen have stood on the top step of the Men’s Singles podium; at the forthcoming Asarel 2016 ITTF World Tour Bulgaria Open, which starts in Panagyurishte on Wednesday 24th August, could that number increase by one or stay the same?

Antoine Hachard is the one Frenchman on duty who has enjoyed success, he is the no.6 seed; Adrien Mattenet and Quentin Robinot are principal names trying to emulate their compatriot.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Earlier this year in Chile, Antoine Hachard won the Men’s Singles title to join Damien Eloi, Christophe Legout and the most successful of all, Abdel-Kader Salifou as the French players who have won ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles.


Christophe Legout won on home soil in Lyon in 1997, Damien Eloi succeeded the following year in the Swedish town of Sundsvall, before in 2013, Abdel-Kader Salifou emerged victorious on no less than three occasions. He won in Cairo, Zagreb and Rabat.

Somewhat ironically, the three players – Simon Gauzy, Emmanuel Lebesson, Tristan Flore – who represented France earlier this year at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships and more recently at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have never gained such an accolade.

Reached Later Stages

In Panagyurishte, logic dictates that Adrien Mattenet is the favourite for gold, he is the top seed and he has come close to securing the top prize; in 2010 in Rabat he reached the semi-final stage, losing to Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus.

Likewise, Quentin Robinot the no.8 seed in Panagyurishte, has advanced to the latter stages; in 2010 in Antwerp and earlier this year in Hungary, he reached the quarter-final round.

Similar Scenario

The latter stages; that is very much the scenario for the other principal names who are on duty in the southern Bulgarian town.

Japan’s Taku Takakiwa and Kenji Matsudaira, the respective second and third seeds, both reached the quarter-final stage in Poland earlier this year, whilst the Czech Republic’s Tomas Konecny and Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic, the next two names in the order of merit, have both progressed to the third round of proceedings.

Tomas Konecny advanced the last 16 names in Poland, Aleksandar Karakasevic in Hungary; notably it was Quentin Robinot who ended the progress of Aleksandar Karakasevic.

Mikhail Paikov

Aiming to build on junior success is very much a goal of Quentin Robinot, he won the Junior Boys’ Singles title at the 2009 European Youth Championships. It is a feat that was achieved two years earlier by Russia’s Mikhai Paikov, the no.7 seed who has not enjoyed the best of fortunes this year but was the runner up in Belarus in 2012.

Climbing one step higher is the clear target for Mikhail Paikov but is his best chance of securing the top step of the podium in the Men’s Doubles event?

Partnering Russian colleague, Alexey Liventsov, the duo won the Men’s Doubles title in on home soil in Ekaterinburg in 2013; pertinently earlier this year they were semi-finalists in both Hungary and Germany.

They are the top seeds with the combination of Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic and the Czech Republic’s Tomas Konecny occupying the second seeded position. Both pairs are major contenders for gold, as are Antoine Hachard and Romain Ruiz; the no.3 seeds, earlier this year they won in Chile.

Focus on Japan

Meanwhile, in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event, eyes focus very much on Japan.

Mizuki Oikawa is the top seed with Yuto Kizukuri being the next in line; Mizuki Oikawa is very much the favourite for the top prize having three ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles titles to his credit.

In 2012 he won in Belarus, in 2014 in Chile, before earlier this year succeeding in Australia.

Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting and Yang Tzu-Yi complete the top four names.

Results – Qualification

Wednesday 24th August: Qualification – Men’s Singles

Wednesday 24th August: Qualification – Women’s Singles

Wednesday 24th August: Qualification – Men’s Doubles

Wednesday 24th August: Qualification – Women’s Doubles

Wednesday 24th August: Qualification – Under 21 Men’s Singles

Wednesday 24th August: Qualification – Under 21 Women’s Singles

Results – Main Draw

Friday 26th August: Main Draw – Men’s Singles

Friday 26th August: Main Draw – Women’s Singles

Friday 26th August: Main Draw – Men’s Doubles

Friday 26th August: Main Draw – Women’s Doubles

Friday 26th August: Main Draw – Under 21 Men’s Singles

Friday 26th August: Main Draw – Under 21 Women’s Singles

World Tour Bulgaria Open Antoine Hachard