24 Sep 2016

The penultimate day of the Under 21 competitions at the 2016 Belgium Open threw up a couple of surprises, and there were also three close calls for Puerto Rico's Brian Afanador.

by Simon Daish

Under 21 Men’s Singles

Starting with the Round of 32 there was a shock right off the bounce as second seed Adam Szudi (Hungary) exited to Belgium’s Florian Cnudde in five ends.

Brian Afanador’s first troublesome encounter of the day also came in the last 32 where Kim Doyub (Korea Republic) pushed him to the seventh end, and it was trouble for Afanador again in the next round.

The 19-year-old from Puerto Rico was forced to dig deep after Irvin Bertrand (France) took a 0-2 lead in the tie and Afanador responded brilliantly by taking three games in a row, keeping his place in the competition.

However, another tough seven game thriller was waiting around the corner for Brian Afandor in the quarter-finals. Remember Florian Cnudde who was mentioned above?  Afanador most certainly will remember him in future tournaments after Cnudde took him all the way to the final end.

Afanador went ahead with an opening game victory, but straightaway Cnudde levelled the match at one game apiece. Again, a similar format followed for the third and fourth ends and a final deciding game was required. The crowd were cheering for Cnudde, yet it was not to be for the home player as game seven went to Afanador (11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-8).

Belgium will have a representative in the semi-finals after Florent Lambiet overcame Kilian Ort of Germany in straight games; the top seed Liao Cheng-Ting (Chinese Taipei) will meet the fourth seed Tamas Lakatos (Hungary) in the top half of the semi-finals draw.

“Against Ort I played very good. I don’t like his game too much and expected a much more difficult match. I have already won a title in Under 21 and hope to go all the way here too” – Florent Lambiet (Belgium).

Under 21 Women’s Singles

Kyoka Kato is one of two Japanese players into the last four (Photo: Ireneusz Kanabrodzki)

Day three of the 2016 Belgium Open confirmed that Japan would be represented in the Women’s Doubles final; the Under 21 Women’s Singles category also comprises an all-Japanese semi-final set to be battled out.

Kyoka Kato and Saki Shibata are the two Japanese players who will go head-to-head for a place in the final, following their quarter-final victories.

Audrey Zarif (France) and Marie Migot (Belgium) were the unfortunate victims of Kato and Shibata respectively; Kato didn’t require anything out of the ordinary to see off Zarif (11-7, 11-5, 11-6), and Shibata only dropped one end to Migot across the match (11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8).

The other semi-final will see two European contestants face off, as Romania’s Bernadette Szocs (seeded first) prepairs to take on third seed Nina Mittleham (Germany).

Nina Mittleham beat Eline Loyen (Belgium) three straight, but another German player was stopped in her tracks as Chantal Mantz missed her chances against Bernadette Szocs who also picked up a 3-0 win.

“I like this tournament. It’s not far from my club in France, so fairly easy to get here. Two years ago I won the Under 21 title here. Last year I didn’t perform so well, but now I want to win the title, especially in the Under 21 because it’s the last time that I play in that competition” – Bernadette Szocs (Romania).

2016 ITTF World Tour Belgium Open Day 3 Quotes

Latest Results

Thursday 22nd September: Under 21 Men’s Singles – Main Draw

Thursday 22nd September: Under 21 Women’s Singles – Main Draw

World Tour Belgium Open Saki Shibata Brian Afanador Kyoka Kato