by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Russia’s Alexey Liventsov led the charge; he beat Germany’s Steffen Mengel, the no.3 seed in four straight games (15-13, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7), the outcome a total reversal of their one previous meeting, when they had confronted each other at the same stage of the Men’s Singles event at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Polish Open. On that occasion Steffen Mengel had won by a similar margin to that which he experienced defeat in Otocec (11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10).
“I had played him once before, two years ago and I lost four-nil. I remembered that I should try to keep the ball on the table as on the previous occasion I rushed and made many easy mistakes; this time I was very confident and the fact that he couldn´t serve short and I could receive actively, definitely helped turned the result on my favour.” Alexey Liventsov
Success for Alexey Liventsov against the odds was followed by a surprise success for the Czech Republic’s Tomas Tregler, as France experienced more joy than pain.
Tomas Tregler ousted Can Akkuzu, the no.26 seed (10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5); whilst later Mexico’s Marcos Madrid beat Quentin Robinot, the no.12 seed (11-9, 13-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9).
Conversely, Joe Seyfried overcame Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu, the no.6 seed (11-6, 12-10, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6); Alexandre Robinot accounted for Belgium’s Robin Devos, the no.28 seed (8-11, 3-11, 11-1, 11-8, 13-11, 11-7), whilst Abdel-Kader Salifou justified his no.20 seeded position recovering from a three games to nil deficit to beat England’s David McBeath (6-11, 7-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4).
Three noteworthy French performances; they came after one of particular note. Romain Lorentz ended the hopes of the ambidextrous Iranian, Noshad Alamiyan, the no.7 seed (11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 8-11, 12-10, 11-9); the win being not only contrary to seeding but contrary to past results. It was the fifth time they had met on the international scene, only the second time that Romain Lorentz had won.
However, there were signs that a reversal of fortunes may be in the offing. The most recent meeting had been in the first round of the Men’s Singles event at the GAC Group 2012 German Open when the Iranian had won the by the very narrowest of seven games margins (5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-13, 11-9).
“I knew it would be a hard match as we already played before and most of the times with victory for him. I had to find my rhythm. I kept calm against his peculiar technique. He has a very good service and a strong backhand; during the match we had some amazing rallies.” Romain Lorentz
Seven upsets, the one further surprise in the mayhem was caused by the Czech Republic’s Antonin Gavlas; he overcame the Slovak Republic’s Bai He, the no.25 seed, in a full distance seven games duel determined by the minimal two point margin (11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10) .
Devastation, the effect is that in the lower half of Men’s Singles draw, the highest rated player left standing at the end of round one is Russia’s Grigory Vlasov, the no.10 seed; he beat Ukraine’s Oleksandr Didukh (11-5, 11-7, 17-15, 11-6) to reserve his second round place.