by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
However for Narayan Kapolnek it was a close call, he needed the full five games to beat the host nation’s Ivor Ban, only emerging successful by the minimal two point margin in the deciding game (11-13, 11-4, 11-5, 7-11, 12-10).
Nervous moments for Narayan Kapolnek; for Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi life was more comfortable; likewise he beat a host nation adversary, impressively he overcame Marko Vidacek in three straight games (11-5, 11-6, 11-4)
Likewise, Korea’s Park Gyeongtae, Russia’s Ivan Nikulin and Hungary’s Sebestyen Kovacs completed their group phase contests unbeaten, as did Italy’s Antonino Amato, Korea’s Han Yubeen and Belgium’s Artur Bilas. All were players who caused first day upsets.
Ivan Nikulin and Antonino Amato both accounted for host nation adversaries; Ivan Nikulin beat Jakov Jakelic (11-7, 11-7, 11-8), Antonino Amato defeated Daniel Mijatovic (11-7, 8-11, 14-12, 11-6).
Meanwhile, Park Gyeongtae overcame Puerto Rico’s Francisco Matias (11-4, 11-5, 11-4), Han Yubeen beat Italy’s Matteo Mutti (10-12, 11-7, 6-11, 11-3, 11-9), whilst Arthur Bilas ended the hopes of Poland’s Kamil Nalepa (6-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7).
Notable wins but arguably the most notable was the success recorded by Sebestyen Kovacs; he beat Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun, at no.383 the 10th highest rated player on duty in the Under 21 Men’s Singles qualification tournament. Presently Sebestyen Kovacs is named at no.636.
The players finishing in first places in each of the 16 groups join the 16 seeds in the main draw.