by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The player to attract the attention was Joe Seyfried; the 18 year old Frenchman listed at no.294 on the current Men’s World Rankings and never higher than no.228, a position he held last November, beat Korea’s Lee Jungwoo (12-10, 11-4, 6-11, 14-12, 6-11, 11-7).
Owing to an absence from the international scene in recent times, Lee Jungwoo has no current World ranking but he is a player capable of winning the whole tournament!
In 2005 he won the Men’s Singles title at the Chinese Taipei Open, in June 2007 he rose to no.19 on the Men’s World Rankings, a position he also held in March 2012 as well as later in the same year from May to July and in September.
Furthermore I wonder if Joe Seyfried has ever previously confronted the Lee Jungwoo style of play; he is the most traditional of Korean players. Just like Yoo Namkyu, the Seoul Olympic Games 1988 Men’s Singles gold medallist, he is a powerful left handed pen-holder who uses one side of the racket only and attacks with venom from the moment the umpire calls the players to order.
A fine effort and arguably a win against the odds; it was the same in the Men’s Singles preliminary round for Austria’s Andreas Levenko, England’s David McBeath, Japan’s Yuki Matsuyama and Uzbekistan’s Zokhid Kenjaev.
However, all were upstaged by Uros Slatinsek, the local man who has not played internationally since the 2016 ITTF World Tour Slovenia Open and is being advised courtside by a member of the class for whom he is the coach!
Impressively, he beat Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre, ranked no.190, in five games (6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-1, 11-7).
Similarly, there was no stopping David McBeath, listed at no.223, he overcame Hungary’s Adam Szudi, named at no.182 (11-8, 15-13, 11-8, 12-10).
Likewise, Yuki Matsuyama, ranked no.226, imposed his authority on proceedings by beating the Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky, standing at no.156 (12-10, 7-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6); whilst in a closer duel, Zokhid Kenjaev ended the hopes of Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chia-Sheng (11-8, 11-8, 2-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8). Presently Zokhid Kenjaev has no World ranking; Lee Chia-Sheng is at no.193.
A hard fought win for Zokhid Kenjaev but nothing matched the victory recorded by Andreas Levenko in opposition to Sun Chia-Hung, like Lee Chia-Sheng from Chinese Taipei.
Occupying the no.240 spot on the Men’s World Rankings, Andreas Levenko emerged successful in one of the closest matches of the year; he prevailed in seven games against an adversary ranked no.157, the decider being a titanic struggle (9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 17-15).
The main draw commences on Friday 28th April.