by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Victory over Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Sakai (11-7, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3) secured second place in his group and a passport to the preliminary round; after losing the opening game to the host nation’s Manav Vikash Thakkar, he recovered to secure a five games win (7-11. 11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7).
Later in the day he overcame Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hang to win the Under 21 Men’s Singles title (11-8, 11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 11-8); more and more confident after a somewhat hesitant start, in the opening round of the Men’s Singles he beat Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.2 (11-5, 12-10, 11-9, 11-4).
A quite sensational win, it overshadowed the splendid efforts Hong Kong’s Jiang Tianyi.
Jiang Tianyi recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat Germany’s Benedikt Duda, the no.7 seed, by the minimal two point margin in the seventh game (5-11, 4-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-3, 11-9).
Surprises but except for Vladimir Samsonov and Benedikt Duda, there were successes for the leading names on first day duty in the Men’s Singles event.
Japan’s Koki Niwa and Yuto Muramatsu stamped their authority on proceedings as did England’s Paul Drinkhall and Austria’s Robert Gardos.
Koki Niwa, the no.3 seed, beat India’s Amalraj Anthony (11-4, 11-5, 15-13, 11-4), Yuto Muramatsu, the no.4 seed, overcame Frenchman Abdel-Kader Salifou (12-10, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5). Similarly, Paul Drinkhall, the no.6 seed, accounted for Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hong (0-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9); whilst Robert Gardos ended the hopes of Paul Drinkhall’s colleague Sam Walker (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).
Meanwhile, in the two remaining contests completed in the Men’s Singles event on the opening day of play, Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.14 seed, defeated Spain’s Alvaro Robles (11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 13-11); Germany’s Ruwen Filus, the no.10 seed, ended the hopes of Frenchman, Quentin Robinot (11-3, 12-10, 11-6, 11-6).
Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the top seed, and Steffen Mengel, the no.13 seed, start their quest for honours on Friday 17th February, as do Japan’s Yuya Oshima, the no.5 seed and Masataka Morizono, the no.9 seed.