by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Not only did the teenager reserve his place in the main draw; he provided plenty of evidence that when the 2018 World Team Championships are staged in Halmstad and the list of players is known for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, he may no longer be an interested spectator soaking up the atmosphere.
Messrs Drinkhall, Pitchford and Walker, the current incumbents have cause to look over their shoulders.
Defeat for Florent Lambiet but he was not the only player who started as the group favourite to experience defeat and thus have hopes quashed.
Spain’s Marc Duran was beaten by Frenchman, Irvin Bertrand (14-12, 9-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8); the Slovak Republic’s Peter Sereda lost to Croatia’s Luka Fucec (11-6, 13-11, 11-6, 13-11), whilst Romania’s Cristian Pletea found another young French player in form. He departed proceedings when opposing Joe Seyfried (12-10, 11-2, 10-12, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9).
Likewise, Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador experienced defeat at the hands of Alexander Valuch, like Peter Sereda from the Czech Republic (11-4, 13-11, 11-5, 11-6); Ecuador’s Alberto Miño suffered against Korea’s Cho Saeseong (12-10, 11-9, 4-11, 11-7, 11-8), whilst Laurens Tromer of the Netherlands had his aspirations curtailed by the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Bajger (11-9, 3-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9).
Defeats but other than for Serbia’s Zsolt Peto who one day earlier had lost to Bulgaria’s Teodor Alexandrov (7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-2), it was success for the leading names.
Russia’s Alexey Liventsov, Spain’s Jesus Cantero alongside the French duo of Alexandre Robinot and Andreas Landrieu all secured first places, as did Japan’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura, England’s Andrew Baggaley and Pavel Platonov of Belarus.
Players finishing in first places in group no.1 to group no.18 progressed directly to the main draw; in the remaining groups, a preliminary round is needed.
The winners of the preliminary round matches, plus one “Lucky Loser” from that round, owing to the late withdrawal of Italy’s Mihai Bobocica, the no.24 seed, advance to the main draw.