by Simon Daish
Chinese Taipei was one of the nations to scrape through by a narrow margin after the No.8 seeds came back to defeat Italy, having trailed 1-2 at one point in the match to the country seeded 11th.
Both Chinese Taipei and Italy had lost their opening group B encounters against China 0-3 so the two points on offer for the win in the third group tie became even more vital for both nations and the opener saw Chinese Taipei make the better start as Lin Yun-Ju came out on top against Italy’s Matteo Mutti in the fifth end (10-12, 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-4).
Despite being the lower seeded nation and being a match down Italy would soon turn the duel on its head as wins from Daniele Pinto and Luca Bressan against Chinese Taipei’s Huang Chien-Tu (8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 6-11, 5-11) and Tai Ming-Wei (11-7, 13-11, 11-4) put the Italians 1-2 ahead, with just a single match win required to move into the group B runner up spot.
All eyes were on the Chinese Taipei team with the prospect of shock defeat looming, but a win for Lin Yun-Ju over Daniele Pinto (4-11, 11-2, 11-5, 11-7) brought the tie level before Huang Chien-Tu went on to beat Matteo Mutti in the final encounter (11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9) to put Chinese Taipei through to the quarter-finals.
“I had some difficulties coming into the match, I was leading, but my mind wasn’t able to stay focused. Our team goal here is to be able to reach the semi-finals, and hopefully make our way through to the final!” – Huang Chien-Tu (Chinese Taipei).
Arguably the shock result of the evening was Belgium’s 3-2 conquering of Hong Kong in group D, as the 10th seeds condemned the fifth seeds to a finish outside of the top eight in Cape Town.
Hong Kong started the match well enough as Ng Pak Nam overcame Laurens Devos (4-11, 4-11, 11-7, 9-11) in the opening tie, but back-to-back successes for Florian Cnudde and Thibaut Darcis put the Belgians in front. Ng Pak Nam went on to complete his brace with a positive showing against Florian Cnudde (6-11, 6-11, 11-4, 9-11), but a victory for Laurens Devos in the final match gave Belgium the upset win.
Group C hosted its final tie as DPR Korea squeezed past the USA 3-2 with the North American side putting up a brave fight throughout the tie, but it was group A which ended up being the closest fought contest on paper with Romania recovering to defeat the Czech Republic leaving all three group matches with a 3-2 end scoreline.