26 Aug 2016

Contrary to expectations, Korea’s Lee Junsang, Sweden’s Anders Eriksson and Romania’s Alexandru Manole, alongside the Indian duo of Arjun Ghosh and Manav Vikash Thakker, secured first places in their respective groups when the qualification stage of the Men’s Singles event at the Asarel 2016 Bulgaria Open came to a close on Thursday 26th August.

Arguably, Lee Junsang, Arjun Ghosh and Anders Ericsson were the players to cause the biggest surprises; none of the trio possesses a current World ranking.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Lee Junsang accounted for Denmark’s Claus Nielsen, listed at no.288 on the current Men’s World Rankings (11-4, 14-12, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9), before overcoming the host nation’s Stefan Lavchiev, also a player with no global status (5-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).

Likewise there was no stopping Arjun Ghosh; after on the opening day accounting for Austria’s David Serdaroglu, ranked no.297 ( 15-13, 11-4, 2-11, 4-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9), he concluded his initial stage engagements in style by overcoming the host nation’s David Kostadinov (11-7, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8).

Swede in Form

Impressive performances from Lee Junsang and Arjun Ghosh; it was the same from Anders Eriksson.

He beat Iran’s Miad Loftijanabadi (15-17, 12-10, 7-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9) and Bulgaria’s Grozdan Grozdanov (11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 5-11, 11-4). The win over Miad Loftijanabadi being the success of note; the Iranian is presently named at no.382 on the Men’s World Rankings.

Against the Odds

Wins against the odds, it was the same for Alexandru Manole, listed at no.401 in the global order and Manav Vikash Thakkar, named at no.452.

Alexandru Manole secured first place in his group courtesy of wins against Bulgaria’s Teodor Alexandrov (11-3, 11-7, 2-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-7) and Korea’s Kim Minho (9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-8); whilst Manav Vikash Thakkar defeated Alin Spelbus, like Alexandru Manole from Romania (11-4, 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7) and the host nation’s Aleksandar Golabanov (11-3, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8).

“The level of the tournament is very high. The players are highly ranked. I had played him in the past; I played every point as well as I could, but I didn’t have a chance. The feeling of playing in front of a crowd like this is amazing because they are very supportive to Bulgarian players. It’s different when you play at home.” Teodor Alexandrov after losing to Alexandru Manole

Notably on the current Men’s World Rankings, Teodor Alexandrov is at no.391, Alin Spelbus at no.398; Aleksandar Golabanov had no present global status, a situation which is also relevant to Kim Minho, who one year ago in August 2015 was at no.421.

Second Place, Main Draw Place

Defeats for Claus Nielsen, David Serdaroglu, Miad Loftijanabadi, Teodor Alexandrov and Alin Spelbus against expectations but it was their only reverse; all five thus secured second places in their respective groups and thus advanced to the main draw.

Players finishing in first and second positions in each of the 15 groups plus two “Lucky Losers”, drawn at random from the third placed players, join the 32 seeds in the opening round.

Closest Group

Second place in the group for Alin Spelbus and it was almost the same for his colleague, Rares Sipos in what proved to be the most closely contested group of all.

Listed at no.384 on the current Men’s World Rankings, Rares Sipos was in splendid form on the first day of play. He beat Bulgaria’s Teodor Yordanov in four straight games on (11-7, 12-10, 3-11, 5-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8).

However, on the second day, he was beaten by Israel’s Mathan Simon, named at no.498 in the global order, in seven games (11-7, 12-10, 3-11, 5-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8).

A surprise pole position was in the offing; no World ranking, Teodor Yordanov beat Mathan Simon in a full distance encounter (15-13, 11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 7-11, 11-7, 12-10) and thus saved the day for Rares Sipos. On games ratio, the Romanian secured first place (7:4) ahead of Mathan Simon (7:7) and Teodor Yordanov (4:7).

Main Draw

Play in the main draw of all events commences on Friday 26th August.