29 Apr 2017

A brave effort but for the host nation’s Deni Kozul, it was agonising defeat on the morning of Saturday 29th April at the semi-final stage of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open in Otocec.

The no.15 seed, he was beaten by Russia’s Sadi Ismailov, the no.13 seed, in a hard fought full distance five games duel (11-9, 5-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8), a player against whom he had experienced success in the past.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

In 2013, they had met at the Czech Junior and Cadet Open, on that occasion just as he lost in Otocec in five games, in Hodonin, Deni Kozul had won in five games.

Testing times for Sadi Ismailov; likewise, he had been stretched to the very limit by the Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky one round earlier. He emerged successful by the minimal margin in the deciding game (7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10) against an adversary who was no stranger.

In 2013 they had met at the Polish Junior and Cadet Open, on that occasion Sadi Ismailov had won but one year later when they crossed swords at the French Junior and Cadet Open, it was success for Tomas Polansky but it was close, the full seven games had been required.

Two hard fought wins; the victories being secured after the previous evening Sadi Ismailov had beaten England’s Luke Savill in a rather more comfortable fashion; he won in three straight games (11-3, 11-7, 11-1).

Meanwhile, for Yuki Matsuyama, life was the less exacting in the latter stages; arguably the most significant result after having recorded a four games win over Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko, the top seed, in the opening round (13-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7) was his straight games second round success in opposition to Chinese Taipei’s Huang Chien-Tu.

He emerged successful in three straight games (11-7, 11-6, 11-8), having in 2011 experienced defeat in both the Cadet Boys’ Team and Junior Boys’ Singles Consolation events at the Taicang Junior and Cadet Open.

An impressive margin of victory against Huang Chien-Tu; it was the same at the quarter-final stage in opposition to Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki (11-7, 11-6, 11-5) and in the penultimate round when facing Germany’s Kilian Ort (7-11, 11-7, 12-10, 12-10).

The final is scheduled for later today at 5.00pm (local time).

Challenge Series 2017 Slovenian Open Deni Kozul Sadi Ismailov Yuto Matsuyama

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