by Simon Daish
Relief for 1st Seed
Kenta Matsudaira has never won a World Tour Men’s Singles title, but a level of expectancy surrounded the player from Japan who entered the 2016 Czech Open as the number one seed.
Matsudaira’s opponent, Andrew Baggaley was not part of the England side which won bronze at the 2016 World Team Championships and didn’t participate at the Olympic Games in Rio. However, his performance in Olomouc had been superb, topping his qualifying group and knocking out Korea Republic’s Cho Eonrae in the Round of 64.
After the opening three games it was Matsudaira (25) who held a 2-1 lead, but Baggaley (33) used his experience to his advantage and soon had the upper hand, taking two games in a row and subsequently gaining a 2-3 advantage.
Top seed Matsudaira was feeling the heat and staring defeat right in the face but he refused to give in, eventually sealing his place in the next round to complete a mini comeback (9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-2).
Kirill Gerassimenko of Kazakhstan is next up for Matsudaira, following his seventh end victory against Tomas Tregler, ending any Czech dreams of winning the trophy in the process.
Victory Accomplished, Swedish Players Advance
Sweden will have three representatives in the last 16 as Anton Kallberg, Mattias Karlsson and Hampus Nordberg all progressed.
Kallberg stunned his opponent Ruwen Filus (Germany), who is ranked almost 50 places above the Swedish teenager, in a tie that required the full seven game distance (3-11, 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-13, 12-10, 11-7). Kallberg will face another German, Benedikt Duda in his next match.
The two other Swedish competitors Mattias Karlsson and Hampus Nordberg posted wins over Asian players. Karlsson saw off Lim Jonghoon (Korea Republic) in five ends, while Nordberg defeated Japan’s Tonin Ruzaki 4-2.
Deuce, Deuce and More Deuce
Patrick Baum has experienced a couple of very enjoyable weeks in the Table Tennis world, winning the Men’s Team bronze with Germany at Rio 2016 and having his name confirmed on the 2016 Men’s World Cup list.
However, there was very little to cheer about for Baum at the Czech Open after he suffered a shock exit to Stephane Ouaiche (France). Momentum swings became a common trend in the encounter between the two players, and three of the games were decided in deuce.
Ouaiche managed to grab a 2-1 lead after a bright start from the Frenchman, but Baum responded and soon put the advantage in his court by moving 2-3 ahead in the first to four games tie.
Baum now had the momentum on his side and was expected to see the match out, however, in another turn of events Ouaiche brought the tie level before stealing the victory with a 15-13 win in the final end (5-11, 14-12, 11-9, 10-12, 9-11, 11-7, 15-13).
Friday 2nd September: Men’s Singles – Main Draw