03 May 2017

Places in the main draw at stake, the top three names on duty in the qualification stage of the Men’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Zagreb Open, all concluded their initial phase group contests in first place on Wednesday 3rd May and thus progressed to the principal event.

It was success for Russia’s Vasiliy Lakeev, Iran’s Nima Alamian and Japan’s Yuto Kizukuri.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

However, for the next in line, there was a surprise defeat; Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic presently listed at no.158 on the Men’s World Rankings, was beaten by Spain’s Miguel Vilchez, named at no.336 (11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 4-11, 7-11, 11-8).

The result meant that Miguel Vilchez retained his unbeaten record in the competition and thus progressed to the main draw. Players finishing in first places in group no.1 to group no.16 advance directly to the main event; all other must play in a preliminary round, the winners of which gain next stage places.

One surprise name through to the main draw and there was one more. Named at no.332 on the present day Men’s World Rankings, Japan’s Shunsuke Togami accounted for the Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky, listed at no.184, in a full distance seven games encounter (11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5) to book his berth in the main stage.

Meanwhile, further down the order, with the preliminary round imminent, there were surprise names that appeared in group first places.

The Slovak Republic’s Alexander Valuch, Korea’s Cho Daeseong and Frenchman, Romain Ruiz all concluded their group stage matches in first places against expectations.

Similarly, Scotland’s Gavin Rumgay, Austria’s Simon Pfeffer and Andreas Levenko, alongside Poland’s Marek Badowski upset the odds as did Japan’s Yuki Matsuyama and Belgium’s Lauric Jean.

Drama but nothing compared with the group comprising Chile’s Felipe Olivares, Belgium’s Artur Bilas and Sweden’s Simon Berglund; the eventual outcome was that Felipe Olivares, at no.227 on the Men’s World Rankings, the highest rated of the trio, topped the group but the outcome could hardly have been closer.

Every match in the group was decided in seven games. Simon Berglund recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat Arthur Bilas (13-15, 3-11, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7, 11-3), before the Belgian recovered to overcome Felipe Olivares (11-9, 11-6, 13-15, 3-11, 2-11, 12-10, 11-7). Defeat for Felipe Olivares but in the concluding contest it was success for the Chilean; he overcame Simon Berglund (9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-6, 3-11, 11-6).

Level on matches won, level on games ratio; points ratio decided. It was first place for Felipe Olivares (134:125), second spot for Simon Berglund (132:131) with Arthur Bilas in third position (128:137).

Challenge Series 2017 Zagreb (Croatia) Open Darko Jorgic Miguel Vilchez

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