by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
He appears in the same group as Nigeria’s Olo Onaolapo and Italy’s Matteo Mutti; to reach the main draw he must secure top spot and then negotiate a preliminary round.
It is a far cry from January 2015 when he started the tournament as the second seed; in the two years since his impressive win, it has not been the best of times for the now 28 year old on whom internationally we first set eyes when he won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title at the 2005 German Open in Magdeburg.
Following his Hungarian win, he climbed to no.30 on the Men’s World Rankings, approaching his best of no.14 held from December 2012 to February 2013.
Alas, for Jiang Tianyi since those halcyon days, the past 24 months have been traumatic. Hit be injury, he fell to no.102 in September and October 2016 and did not gain selection for either the Perfect World Team Championships or the Rio Olympic Games.
He now stands at no.84; in Budapest for Jiang Tianyi, the road to recovery starts.
Success on the ITTF World Tour but required to compete in the qualification stage; Jiang Tianyi is not alone. He is one of 11 players who have won ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles but in Budapest must start at the very beginning.
Arguably the most notable name is that of China’s Yan An who beat colleague Fan Zhendong to win the Men’s Singles title in Sweden in 2013; the same year as Brazil’s Cazuo Matsumoto won in Spain.
Likewise, Russia’s Fedor Kuzmin won in Slovenia in 2005; Serbia’s Zsolt Peto emerged victorious in Belarus in 2009 whilst there was success for India’s Sharath Kamal in Egypt in 2010 as there was for Sweden’s Hampus Nordberg on home soil in 2012.
Meanwhile, two years later, Germany’s Ricardo Walther prevailed in Croatia in 2014 as did Austria’s Daniel Habesohn in Hungary, before last year in 2016the Czech Republic’s Thomas Konecny succeeded in Bulgaria and Frenchman Antoine Hachard clinched the top step of the podium in Chile.
Ten former ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles champions on qualification duty; in the counterpart Women’s Singles event, there is just one.
In 2012, the host nation’s Szandra Pergel won in both Belgium and Croatia.