by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
All concluded their group stage matches unbeaten.
However, the player to reap the greatest benefit was Spain’s Alvaro Robles; listed at no.102 on the current Men’s World Rankings, he accounted for Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, named at no.22; the Spaniard emerged successful by the very narrowest of margins (11-7, 11-13, 13-15, 11-5, 15-13, 4-11, 11-9).
The pertinent factor is that Alvaro Robles was in the group no.4. Players finishing in first places in the top four groups advanced directly to the main draw; for all others, those in groups listed no.5 to no.28, a preliminary round awaits for the group winners.
In a similar vein, listed at no.107 on the Men’s World Rankings, Liao Cheng-Ting beat Croatia’s Andrej Gacina, named at no.28 (9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 2-11, 14-12, 14-12), whilst Anton Källberg overcame Russia’s Alexander Shibaev (11-5, 11-13, 11-9, 11-3, 11-7). Presently Anton Källberg is listed at no.87 in the global order, Alexander Shibaev is at no.35.
Likewise, Jiang Tianyi who appears at no.76, accounted for Sweden’s Pär Gerell, listed at no.37 (11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-2); Noshad Alamiyan at no.81 defeated Germany’s Benedek Duda standing at no.44 (11-3, 11-5, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5).
Meanwhile, Kim Minseok, currently with no World ranking, overcame Singapore’s Gao Ning, ranked no.50 (11-9, 10-12, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4).
“I knew him; I knew he was very powerful. I saw him last year at the Austrian Open, so I knew his style. I think also the fact that I am also left handed made it more difficult for him to create angles. I was able to anticipate, he kept playing across the diagonal. Recently at training I’ve been focusing on my forehand, I think my forehand top spin has improved; it is more consistent”, Noshad Alamiyan after beating Benedek Duda.
Surprise first places and as the group stage came to a conclusion, more names joined the list.
Japan’s Masaki Yoshida, Frenchman Tristan Flore, the Czech Republic’s Tomas Konecny and Germany’s Steffen Mengel all finished in first positions contrary to expectations.