by Simon Daish
Seeded first for the category Kirill Gerassimenko was considered to be one of the favourites to excel in the competition, but a fine display from Japan’s Yuki Matsuyama saw the top seed suffer an early exit (11-13, 11-6, 9-11, 7-11) and Gerassimenko put the result down to his lack of game time in Otocec prior to the match.
“As it was my opening match it was difficult for me to adapt to the ball, the tables but even if I lost in the Under 21 competition now I will be prepared and focused on the Men’s Singles event”, Kirill Gerassimenko.
Kirill Gerassimenko caught the world’s attention earlier in the year when he became the first player from Kazakhstan not only to reach an ITTF World Tour final but also to claim a title following his victory over France’s Can Akkuzu in the Under 21 Men’s Singles final at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Hungary Open.
One of the main reasons for Gerassimenko’s dramatic improvement is due to the fact that he trains abroad in Germany, Austria and sometimes even in China.
However, the 20-year-old is disappointed to see that his fellow compatriots aren’t able to receive a similar training programme and believes that ultimately their chances of success might be held back due to this reason.
“For me it’s difficult because I am always alone and I am the only player from my team that has the chance to practice abroad. My teammates are training only with each other back in Kazakhstan, there’s no opportunity for them to improve”, Kirill Gerassimenko.
Tournament exposure can help players to evolve in many ways whether lessons are learnt on the table or by watching and analysing other competitors, and Gerassimenko is confident that his experience on the international scene will help to further his game.
“I am trying to adapt myself to a more mature game, a more active style. It may take some time to see the results but I feel that I am on the right track”, Kirill Gerassimenko.
Speaking of moving forwards, Gerassimenko also told the ITTF that his objective for the year ahead is to move into the top 80 in the ITTF World Rankings table and is feeling optimistic about his chances at the upcoming Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf stating “Anything is possible during the World Championships!”.
Exiting the Under 21 Men’s Singles competition at the 2017 Slovenia Open early will be disappointing, but Kirill Gerassimenko remains one of the most exciting young talents in the sport and will only continue to improve as time passes.