by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Players finishing in first places in group no.1 to no.18 qualify directly for the main draw; the players securing top spot in the remaining groups are required to play in the extra round.
Undoubtedly, Teodor Alexandrov, who lives in Sofia and plays in the Bulgarian League for Dunav Ruse as well as in the French National League Three, the fifth league, for Belfort, was the player to cause the biggest upset.
Listed at no.368 on the current Men’s World Rankings, he overcame the defensive skills of the Czech Republic’s Stanislav Kucera, named at no.366, in a hard fought seven games duel (11-3, 5-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-8) prior to causing arguably the biggest upset of the day.
He accounted for the talented left handed Serbian Zsolt Peto, listed at no.128, the highest rated player on duty in the qualification stage. Teodor Alexandrov won in six games (7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-2).
“I was very lucky to get this group because I played both good against defence and against a left hander. In the first match I started quite well but the match was decided in the seventh game. I am in good physical shape right now and felt very comfortable against both opponents. Here I find very proper conditions; I hope to continue my performance for the rest of the tournament and try to win as many players as possible.” Teodor Alexandrov
A major surprise, the first place gained by Choi Wonjin was also against the odds; for Lee Jungwoo, it was to be expected. Neither player the owner of a current World Ranking, competing in group no.36, Choi Wonjin, after receiving a walk-over against Denmark’s Claus Nielsen, accounted for Germany’s Qiu Dang, ranked no.217 (9-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-3, 12-10).
Tense times for Choi Wonjin, for Lee Jungwoo, competing in group no.38, the winner of the Men’s Singles title at the 2005 ITTF World Tour Chinese Taipei Open, life was less demanding. After overcoming Croatia’s Filip Cipin (11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 14-12), he secured first place courtesy of success against Chile’s Felipe Olivares (11-8, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7). Present on the Men’s World Ranking list, Felipe Olivares is at no.209, Filip Cipin at no.269.
Success for three visitors but pride of place went to Uros Slatinsek in group no.39; no current World ranking, he accounted for Austria’s Simo Pfeffer, listed globally at no.262 (10-12, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 12-10) prior to securing top spot by overcoming Romania’s Rares Sipos, named at no.218 (19-17, 12-10, 11-7, 1-11, 14-12).
Surprise first places but other than for Zsolt Peto, for the leading names on qualification stage duty it was one match, one win.
Russia’s Alexey Liventsov beat the Czech Republic’s Jiri Martinko (11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5), Spain’s Jesus Cantero overcame England’s Helshan Weerasinghe (11-8, 12-10, 17-15, 6-11, 11-9), whilst Frenchman Alexandre Robinot accounted for Miguel Vilchez, like Jesus Cantero from Spain (11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9).
Play in the qualification tournament concludes on Thursday 27th April.