By Neha Aggarwal
The much awaited Men’s World Cup is finally here. The first day is full of thrilling action starting at 12:00pm local time. Check out what to expect from each of these players.
Group 1: Bastian Steger, Hugo Calderano and David Powell
All matches in group one will be competed against players who have never played each other at the world stage. Bastian Steger who climbed up to number 20 in the October World rankings, will play the opening match against Powell David, ranked number 283 at 12pm local time. Fresh from Olympic success, Bastian is high on confidence and with better experience, he is expected to sail past over Powell without many hurdles. Powell, who aims to qualify from the groups stage seems to have a herculean task on day one.
Bastian will next play Brazilian sensation Calderano Hugo at 2:30pm local time. Fresh out of success at the Olympic Games, both the the players have one thing in common. Germany’s Bastian is playing on home soil and Calderano trains and competes in the German League. Bastian will enjoy home support but Calderano, who claimed to have prepared well in Germany will give in his heart and soul to prove his mettle. This will be one of the most thrilling matches to watch out for!
Group 2: Lee Sangsu, Kristian Karlsson and Feng Yijun
The biggest match in group 2 is Lee Sangsu versus Kristian Karlsson at 2:30pm local time. Both have met three times previously and Lee leads the charts with a 2-1 lead. The game is expected to be a fine display of counter topspins as both the players are strong attackers and fierce fighters.
Feng Yijun, who is fresh out of meeting President Barrack Obama at the White House two days back will start his opening match against Lee Sangsu. A traditionally athletic Korean attacker, Lee with his strong forehand is expected to be too good for Feng but the American has his eyes set on making a successful debut this World Cup. Feng has never competed against both Lee Sangsu and Kristian, thus it will be a big test for him in is his debut World Cup.
Group 3: Stefan Fegerl, Alexander Shibaev and João Monteiro
With three Europeans drawn into one group, expect long and powerful counter topspin rallies. Feregal and Monteiro, scheduled to play at 12:45pm local time, have know each other in more than many ways. Together they won the Men’s Doubles title at the Liebherr 2015 European Championships, both practice at the Werner Schlager Academy and have proved themselves as good team players. Stefan Fegerl may have a greater range of strokes but Monteiro looks strong in 2016 having prevailed over higher ranked Simon Gauzy (FRA) and Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) at the ITTF Europe Top 16 earlier this year.
Shibaev will play his opening match against Fegerl at 3:15pm local time. Although he disappointed at the 2014 edition, Shibaev has a point to prove and is expected to go in the game on a confident note. He has played against Monteiro twice in the past and both the players have won once each. Thus it will be a battle of equals to decide who heads the charts.
Group 4: Quadri Aruna, Gao Ning and Pär Gerell
World number 25 and crowd favorite Aruna Quadri will open his campaign against Gerell Par at 12:45pm local time. Having a successful win over Gerell at the ITTF German Open this year, Aruna undoubtedly has an upper hand. Gerell, a left handed attacking player, may trouble Aruna with his serves and poker faced attack, but he needs to pull up his socks in order to drown the reigning Africa Cup winner.
Gao Ning has cruised past Aruna in their last two meetings, but this World Cup will be a different setting altogether. Aruna on an all time high world ranking at number 25, is expected to fight until the last, like he always does. Gao Ning is solid with is his forehand topspins as the rotation on the ball is difficult to read but does not have the speed to move around the backhand to play the forehand. The match will be a neck to neck thriller and thus worth a watch.