by Simon Daish
The release of the seeding list for the 2016 Austrian Open saw 32 contestants automatically qualify for the main event, yet not one of the top 32 seeds were Chinese representatives meaning that all five of China’s entered players had to participate in the qualifying rounds. However, that didn’t seem to be too much of a problem for the Chinese lineup as Zhou Kai, Wang Chuqin, Fang Yinchi, Zhu Cheng and Zhao Zhaoyan all booked their spots in the draw.
There were a few big name eliminations in the qualifying group stage with the likes of Leonardo Mutti (ITA) and the host nation’s Daniel Habesohn both exiting the category, but there was no disappointment for China as all five of the country’s competitors topped their respective qualifying groups to move into the preliminary round.
Zhou Kai’s personal best performance on the World Tour in the senior category was a quarter-finals finish at the 2014 Japan Open and two years later he has defied the rankings table in Linz by registering a sixth game victory against Japan’s Kohei Sambe. There were also successful outcomes for Zhu Cheng and Fang Yinchi who saw off Jin Takuya (JPN) and Russia’s Alexey Liventsov.
Wang Chuqin, who according to China’s Men’s Coach Liu Guoliang has the potential to go far in the Open, also faced little trouble in his tie with Belgium’s Robin Devos which ended 4-2 in Wang’s favour. Arguably though, it was Zhao Zhaoyan who endured the most eventful encounter of the day after the Chinese player came from behind to win in seven ends against Russia’s Kirill Skachkov (9-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8, 12-14, 11-9, 11-9).
France also had a good number of players competing in the preliminary round, with three representatives sealing their places in the next round: Mehdi Bouloussa, Abdel-Kader Salifou and Can Akkuzu. Bouloussa was involved in a seven game thriller as the 21-year-old defeated Bence Majoros (HUN) 4-3. Wins for Salifou and Akkuzu over Poland’s Konrad Kulpa and Romania’s Cristian Pletea ensured that France would have six players in the main draw which commences on Thursday 11th November at the Open. Yet there will be no spot in the main draw for another Frenchman, Alexandre Robinot, following his straight games loss to Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar.
Elsewhere in the preliminary round there were victories for England’s Samual Walker, Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro and Iran’s Noshad Alamian, while another standout result of the stage saw Czech competitor Michal Obeslo beat Cho Eonrae of Korea Republic in the deciding end.
Thursday 10th November: Men’s Singles – Qualification Group Stages
Thursday 10th November: Men’s Singles – Preliminary Round