by Simon Daish
Against the Status Quo
Romania’s Hunor Szocs was one of the three players able to buck the trend, following his Round of 32 win against Maxim Shymrev (Russia).
Szocs didn’t make the greatest of starts to the match as Shymrev took the first game, but the Romanian kept focusing on the task ahead and four consecutive game wins came his way putting the 24-year-old through to the last 16 (7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9, 13-11).
“It always worries me to play the first match of the tournament, but having played set one I felt confident and carried on calmly. It is my second visit to Minsk. The event itself and the organization are very high-level” – Hunor Szocs (Romania).
Also through is Belarus’s Pavel Platonov, keeping alive the dream of a home player winning the title at the Open.
Platonov made a great start to his match with Russia’s Andrei Baibuldin by taking the first and second ends, but Baibuldin began to make life a little trickier for the Belarusian player, bringing the tie level at 2-2. Much to the delight of the home spectators, Platonov responded positively and managed to grab a 4-2 victory.
The third player to progress from outside of both Russia and Korea Republic was Denys Kalachevskyi of Ukraine, who brought down Viacheslav Burov (Russia) across five games.
Japan Makes Swift Exit
Not very often does an ITTF World Tour event see Japan knocked out in the opening round of a Men’s Singles main draw, but that is exactly what has happened in Minsk: Japan only fielded one contestant for the 2016 Belarus Open in the Men’s Singles, so Tomoya Fujimura held the hopes of an entire nation in his hands.
Fujimura had impressed in the preliminary groups stages after topping his group of four, but an exit one round later to Korea Republic’s Park Ganghyeon (0-4) ultimately sees Japan eliminated from the category.
Penultimate Day Look Ahead
The last 16 is now upon us, and with it come some mouthwatering encounters.
Russian player Kirill Skachkov (seeded fourth) will take on the number eight seed Cho Seungmin (Korea Republic) for a place in the quarter-finals, while another three Russia vs Korea matches will be played out.
An Jaehyun and Cho Eonrae are set to battle it out in an all-Korean Round of 16 tie, and the host nation’s Pavel Platonov (10th) goes head-to-head with Korea’s Park Ganghyeon (11th).
Friday 9th September: Men’s Singles – Main Event