By Neha Aggarwal
Fresh from the success at Rio Olympic games and an all time high world ranking of 25, Aruna Qaudri (NGR) possibly had the biggest disappointment on day one. Despite giving his best, he graciously lost both his matches in group four, 3-4 against Singapore’s Gao Ning and 2-4 against Sweden’s Pär Gerell. Although he fought till the end and entertained the crowd like always, he expressed his dismay:
“I gave my best, but I made a lot of mistakes during crucial stages. I was also unlucky to have missed many chances . I knew that it was going to be 50-50 against him because he is a top player. He was also more calm during match and I can conclude that his experience saved him. I hope to do better next time.”
Loosing both his matches in the group stage, he crashed out of the 2016 Leibherr Men’s World Cup.
The other big disappointment came in group one from the second Rio sensation from Brazil, Hugo Calderano who lost to host nation’s Steger Bastian in straight sets (11-7, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7) in his opening match. Although as expected Calderano beat Powell David 4-0 in the next round, his loss to Bastian was a big blow.
He said , “I could not play to my best level having played against him twice in the Bundesliga. After losing the first two first games, I knew it was over because he really imposed his game on me and I failed to raise my game.” However, Claderano achieved his aim of entering the last 16, where he will play the formidable Xu Xin at 14:30 local time.
In group two, USA’s Feng Yijun narrowly missed a huge opportunity to open his account in his debut World Cup appearance as he lost to Korea’s Lee Sangsu in a nail biting seven set thriller (11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 11-4). Slightly satisfied with his result, he said, “In the first game I was a bit nervous but the crowd support pulled me through to win the second game. I think his experience and skills really worked for him. I am very satisfied with my performance but I made a lot of mistakes in the match which cost me victory.”
The joys of success
The current world number 2o, Germany’s Steger Bastian was undoubtedly the happiest man on day one as he hit the bulls eye on both his encounters in group one. He beat Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Australia’s Powell David in straight sets to enter the last 16 knock out stage. He will now face France’s Simon Gauzy in the round of 16. Bastian looks to have an upper edge as his success from today coupled with his already boosted confidence from Rio will help him be his best on day two.
Sweden’s Par Gerell had an emotionally victorious ride today as despite being the lowest ranked in his group, he thrashed both Aruna Quadri (4-2) and Gao Ning (4-0) to make it to the round of 16. He rejoiced, “Winning all my group matches was a great moment for me in this competition and I hope I can also be successful in the next round.”
Fegerl Stefan (AUT) struggled but made it through to the last 16 stage as he won both his matches in group three. He beat Russia’s Shibaev Alexander as the match went until the last game 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-6. The joyful Fegerl said,
“He defeated me easily 3-0 during the European Championships but I was ready for him today. I put a lot of pressure on him, which forced him to make mistakes. I should have finished up the match after taking the first two games. I am happy that I won to advance to the next stage.”
Earlier in the day he registered a strong 4-2 victory over Portugal’s Monteiro Joao. He will now play Korean youngster Jeoung Youngsik at 12:00 pm local time.
With a long day of exciting table tennis filled with mixed emotions, many surprises and anticipated results, watch out for the last 16 knock out stage where the top eight seeded players have been drawn against the top two qualifies of the group stages to make the draw of 16.