by Simon Daish
With both Denmark and Hungary having suffered defeats to Austria in the previous rounds, the third round of the qualifying groups held a great deal of significance for group A, as Denmark and Hungary attempted to keep up with the early pace setter Austria.
Bence Majoros went into the match ranked 200th in the world (November 2016) and so when the 19-year-old gave Hungary the opening lead with a three-two win against the world No.33 Jonathan Groth (6-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7) the home fans were left in a state of shock. Hungary then took a two-nil lead when their player Adam Szudi also made an amazing comeback to beat Denmark’s Tobias Rasmussen in five games (6-11, 8-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8).
Denmark were in trouble and with Anders Lind surrendering a two-nil lead before Hungary’s Tamás Lakatos managed to draw the duel level at two-two, the pressure was on the hosts to deliver a positive result but this time around the Danish team held on as Lind edged out Lakatos three-two (11-4, 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7).
Jonathan Groth then returned to action for the Danes and a straight games victory over Adam Szudi of Hungary (11-8, 12-10, 11-8) pushed the tie into a deciding match, which saw Bence Majoros claim his second win beating Mikkel Hindersson across four games (6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4) to give Hungary the points.
Italy has put themselves back up the group C pecking order following their three-one away success against Finland; Benedek Oláh gave the Finnish side a one-nil start after he defeated Jordy Piccolin in the fifth game (11-13, 11-2, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8), but Leonardo Mutti restored parity between the two teams as the Italian athlete overcame Alex Naumi without dropping a game (11-7, 11-8, 15-13).
Then Daniela Pinto impressed against Finland’s Otto Tennilä (11-2, 7-11, 14-12, 13-11) to put Italy in front for the first time in the match before Leonardo Mutti completed his brace with a three-one win over Benedek Oláh (7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6) to seal the victory.
Group H looks like the group to keep a close eye on with all three countries sitting on three points at the conclusion of the third round in the qualifying group stage, after Belgium registered a three-one win in the Slovenian town of Nova Gorica.
The opening fixture between Slovenia and Belgium saw Robin Devos claim a huge scalp as the Belgian competitor, who is ranked 113th in the world saw off the 40th world ranked player Bojan Tokič after five games (12-10, 2-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-7), but a positive response from Darko Jorgič brought Slovenia level at 1-1 following his victory over Cedric Nuytinck. Back-to-back wins for Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Cedric Nuytinck against Deni Kožul (11-6, 14-16, 11-5, 11-6) and Bojan Tokič (11-8, 11-7, 11-5) gave the visiting side the glory.
Croatian Table Tennis fans will be delighted with their country’s performance in the third group D match with Andrej Gaćina, Tomislav Pucar and Frane Kojić safely negotiating Israel’s Omri Ben Ari, Mathan Simon and Aviv Ben Ari, while Romania were successful on their travels to Istanbul as they beat Turkey three-nil.
Spain, England, Ukraine, Slovakia and Serbia also proved victorious on their respective ties.