01 Sep 2016

The 2016 Czech Open has begun, and the Under 21 Men's Singles qualifying group stage was the first event of the opening day.

With three players making up each group (aside from group 14 which features four) every match counts, and after the morning's session of play, we are ever closer to discovering who will make the main draw.

by Simon Daish

Mixed Bag for Czech players

The host nation’s competitors have endured a mixed start to the Under 21 Men’s Singles event as five of the six Czech players were in action.

David Reitspies won his opening match of group 3, beating Cristian Chirita (Romania) in a topsy-turvy encounter. The match required the full five game distance to be settled and it was Reitspies who came out on top with a 3-2 victory (11-9, 7-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-5).

Following the outcome of the tie Reitspies the former European Junior number one, gave his thoughts on how he had performed against Chirita:

“I am really happy for this win  because it was not easy at all. I don´t have any idea why but none of us played really well. It was a roller coaster. In the final set I improved my receiving and had a lead from the beginning. That was really important.” – David Reitspies (Czech Republic).

However, Reitspies was the only player to get the home crowd cheering as the other four competitors from the Czech Republic all ended up on the wrong side of victory.

Patrik Klos suffered a straight games defeat to Peng Wang-Wei (Chinese Taipei), Vlastimil Buben lost out to Koyo Kanamitsu (Japan), Jan Valenta was edged out 3-2 by Claus Nielsen (Denmark) and Jiri Martinko was beaten in four ends by Nandor Ecseki (Hungary).

Wide Open Group of Four

Group 14, as mentioned above, is the one group that consists of four players instead of three, making the battle for first position an interesting scenario.

Thailand’s Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon and Japan’s Yuki Matsuyama lead the way in the group, following respective wins against Ravindra Kotiyan (India) and Adam Dosz (Poland).

Wisutmaythangkoon passed by Kotiyan with ease (11-6, 11-8, 11-5) while Matsuyama’s encounter with Dosz saw the Japanese competitor recover from 0-1 down to reign victorious (6-11, 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 12-10).

Surprise, Surprise

Qiu Liang (Germany) made a strong start to group 10 as expected, with a 3-0 win over Nikita Artemenko (Russia). However, the other Russian player in the qualifiers Petr Fedotov currently sits top of group 11 after he shocked Italy’s Alessandro Baciocchi (11-7, 15-13, 3-11, 11-9); over 400 ranking places separate the two players in the Under 21 category.

Other surprise results came from Korea Republic’s Park Chan-Hyeok and Kim Minho in groups 12 and 13.

Park powered through Lionel Weber (Switzerland) without dropping a game, and Kim began his 2016 Czech Open campaign with a 3-1 success against Huang Chien-Tu of Chinese Taipei (11-5, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7).

Qualification Still Possible

While many of today’s defeated players will be disappointed with the situation they are currently in, qualification to the round of 64 of the main draw is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Romain Ruiz (France) may have beaten Tomas Kopanyi (Slovakia) on day one, but a defeat for Ruiz tomorrow and a victory for Kopanyi against India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar would mean that suddenly the outcome of the group could go down to the wire.

The same goes for the other groups, with group 14 (four players) being the one to watch with four matches remaining.

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