by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
All finished in first place in their respective group; with the exception of Norbert Nagy, all beat the highest rated player on duty to secure top spot.
Norbert Nagy chose a different route; he was beaten by Slovenia’s Luka Norcic, the favourite to secure first place, in his opening contest in five games (11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11, 11-8). Later, he recovered to overcome Romania’s Mihai Nemaciuc in four games (9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9) after Mihai Nemaciuc had defeated Luka Norcic with the loss of just one game (10-12, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9).
Thus games ratio prevailed; it was first place for Norbert Nagy (5:4), followed by Mihai Nemaciuc (4:4) and Luka Norcic (4:5).
Otherwise for the players to attract the limelight, the equation was simple, beat the leading player in the group and remain unbeaten.
Opening day in Lignano
Focused, Norbert Terek accounted for the Slovak Republic’s Markus Tonkovic (6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4); Oliver Both defeated Tunisia’s Aboubaker Bourass (11-9, 13-11, 11-8).
Similarly, Andrei Tsiarokhin overcame Romania’s Paul Mladin (6-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-6, 11-8), whilst Francisco Miguel Ruiz beat Austria’s Christian Friedrich (13-11, 11-9, 11-7) and Sergei Grau defeated Australia’s Rohan Dhooria (12-10, 11-5, 10-12, 10-12, 11-6).
Meanwhile, not to be outdone, overcame Romania’s Dragos Florin Oprea (11-3, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6); Olav Kosolosky accounted for Uladzislau Rukliatsou of Belarus (11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-4).
Defeat for the highest listed but with the exception of Luka Norcic, the one defeat was not terminal. Second position and progress to the main draw was achieved.
Surprise pole positions; but in a competition where the top 16 players received a direct entry to the second stage, the leading names on initial phase duty all enjoyed success.
Serbia’s Aleksa Gacev, Spain’s Joan Masip, Slovenia’s Peter Hribar and Portugal’s José Pedro Francisco all remained unbeaten and thus reserved main draw places.