by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Sadi Ismailov, the second highest rated player on first stage duty, duly topped his group but for Konstantin Chernov and Vladimir Sidorenko it was runners up spot.
Impressively Sadi Ismailov, the second highest rated player in the first phase, beat Romania’s Alexandru Manole (11-4, 11-9, 11-2, 11-6) and Belgium’s Florian Cnudde (11-6, 11-7, 11-8, 7-11, 11-3.
“This is very important tournament for me. Look at the atmosphere, it is great. It is great to play in front of home crowd; my whole family is here. I cannot let this entire audience down; that is why I was so focused, not to make easy mistakes, especially in the opening match which is always hard”, Sadi Ismailov after beating Alexandru Manole
Top spot in the group as expected; for Vladimir Sidorenko, only 14 years old, it was an anticipated outcome but only by a narrow margin. He finished the group with two wins, the same as Germany’s Qiu Dang, the highest listed player in the group, and the Czech Republic’s Stanislav Kucera.
Vladimir Sidorenko caused a major upset by beating Qiu Dang in six games (11-4, 8-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-5, 13-11), before in a titanic concluding contest, experiencing a seven games defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic’s Stanislav Kucera (11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 7-11, 16-14). Earlier in the opening contest in the group, Qiu Dang had overcome Stanislav Kucera in five games (11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6).
Thus on games ratio, it was first place for Qiu Dang (6:5) with Vladimir Sidorenko next in line (7:6) and Stanislav Kucera (5:8) in third spot.
“Playing at home gives me extra confidence. I am feeling good. It was very close at the end, a very tough duel”, Vladimir Sidorenko
The status quo for Sadi Ismailov and Vladimir Sidorenko, not for Konstantin Chernov; the fourth highest named on first phase duty, he had to settle for second place. In a similar situation to that of Vladimir Sidorenko, he finished level with Sweden’s Simon Berglund and Belgium’s Thibaut Darcis; each recorded two wins apiece.
In his opening contest, Konstantin Chernov was beaten by Thibaut Darcis in five games (16-14, 8-11, 11-6, 13-11, 13-11), a major upset, one of the biggest of the day.
“It is always like that in the opening matches. It is hard for everyone and I seized my opportunity. I was better in the tight finishes; little things prevailed. I was aware of his dangerous service game; in rallies I felt confident. We met two years ago but since then we both have changed a lot in our play”, Thibaut Darcis after beating Konstantin Chernov.
Defeat but Konstantin Chernov responded immediately; in his second contest he defeated Simon Berglund in six games (11-6, 12-10, 11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7). A response from Konstantin Chernov, it was the same from Simon Berglund; in his next duel, he defeated Thibaut Darcis in four straight games (11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9).
“I am in a very good shape and I am feeling good playing here”, Simon Berglund
Thus on games ratio, Simon Berglund topped the group (6:4), second place went to Konstantin Chernov (5:6) with Thibaut Darcis (4:5) in third spot.
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