04 May 2017

Satisfaction, maybe a sense of relief amongst local supporters, Andrej Gacina and Tomislav Pucar, the two leading players from the host nation both emerged successful in their opening round Men’s Singles engagements on the afternoon of Thursday 4th May at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Zagreb Open.

Andrej Gacina, the no.4 seed, beat Romania’s Cristian Pletea in four straight games (13-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7); whilst in a rather more closely contest affair, Tomislav Pucar, the no.14 seed, overcame the Czech Republic’s Pavel Sirucek (7-11, 14-12, 11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Success as status advised but there were upsets; with the name of Japan’s Yuki Matsuyama once again attracting the eye.

The previous week in Slovenia, not seeded, he had won the Under 21 Men’s Single title, prior to causing a major first round Men’s Singles upset by overcoming Poland’s Jakub Dyjas, the no.2 seed (11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 12-10, 15-13).

In the first round of the Men’s Singles event in Zagreb, not quite on the scale of the Slovenian venture, he caused an opening round surprise. He beat Frenchman Abdel-Kader Salifou, the no.24 seed and the winner of no less than three Men’s Singles title at Challenge Series tournaments in 2013.

Impressively, after suffering a somewhat unexpected opening round defeat in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event in opposition to Russian qualifier Ivan Nikulin (11-9, 7-11, 13-11, 11-8); the clearly resilient Yuki Matsuyama beat Abdel-Kader Salifou in four straight games (11-7, 11-7, 11-5, 11-2).

Success against the odds for Yuki Matsuyama, for colleague Kenji Matsudaira it was the opposite experience. The no.21 seed, he suffered against Czech Republic qualifier, Michel Obeslo (11-5, 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7), a player he had beaten on the most recent international meeting. Kenji Matsudaira had prevailed when the two had met in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open.

Defeats against expectations for Kenji Matsudaira and for Abdel-Kader Salifou; it was the same for one more Frenchman; Can Akkuzu, the no.28 seed, lost to Ukraine’s Oleksandr Didukh (11-8, 11-5, 5-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-4).

Three upsets as matters advanced in the lower half of the Men’s Singles draw but where the principal names were involved it was success.

Additional to Andrej Gacina; Panagiotis Gionis of Greece, the no.2 seed, beat the host nation’s Vjekoslav (11-9, 11-2, 11-8, 11-6); Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.5 seed, overcame Sweden’s Hampus Nordberg, whilst England’s Liam Pitchford, the no.8 seed, defeated Chile’s Felipe Olivares (10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8).

Play in the second round of the Men’s Singles event will be conducted later in the day.


Challenge Series 2017 Zagreb (Croatia) Open

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