06 May 2017

Winner of the Boys' Singles title at the ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals staged in the Paraguayan capital city of Asuncion in late January 2015; Japan's Yuto Kizukuri, alongside Germany's Wang Xi, caused the biggest upsets in the second round of the Men's Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Zagreb Open on Thursday 4th May.

Not seeded, required to compete in the two day qualification tournament, now 17 years old, Yuto Kizukuri beat Nigeria's, Quadri Aruna, the no.3 seed and quarter-finalist at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in a most impressive manner.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The teenager emerged successful in four straight games (11-5, 12-10, 15-13, 11-9) but it was the success recorded by Wang Xi that was the focus of attention.

Wang Xi, the no.31 seed, beat the host nation’s Andrej Gacina, the no.4 seed, in five games (6-11, 11-7, 14-12, 14-12, 11-7), to reserve his place in the third round of proceedings.

“At the beginning it was almost fine but in the second game Wang started to play a lot more aggressively, he attacked. In third game I had a victory in front of me but I made too many mistakes. The new balls are not good me. I go a little under the ball and it flies long over the table. I came here and played here just because this is tournament in my country, in Croatia. Otherwise, no way I would play in such a tournament in such circumstances. No way!“ Andrej Gacina

Disappointment for Andrej Gacina, delight for Wang Xi, who seized the opportunity presented.

“I started to play better after the first game. I had too some problems with new ball, so I needed to change my serve, finally I was more focused on the match and that was one of a reason for this victory.“ Wang Xi.

Two major upsets, the wins rather put other fine performances into the shadows.

Harmeet Desai, the no.22 seed, beat Portugal’s João Geraldo, the no.22 seed (11-4, 13-11, 5-11, 12-10, 11-4) on what was a good afternoon for India. In addition, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the no.25 seed, ousted Finland’s Benedek Olah, the no.15 seed (7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8).

Similarly, Frenchman Quentin Robinot, the no.20 seed, accounted for Sweden’s Pär Gerell, the no.6 seed  in closely contested seven games duel decided by the very narrowest of margins (6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8, 3-11, 9-11, 11-9), before in what must be a first on either the ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series two Englishmen met with the result realising a surprise.

Sam Walker, the no.32 seed, who revels in the big time, overcame Liam Pitchford the no.8 seed, in a gripping seven gamed duel decided by a hair’s breadth (11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 14-12).

Surprise, upsets, at the end of the round, one Croatian alongside just three of the top eight names remained standing.

Tomislav Pucar, the no.14 seed, flew the flag for the host nation, he beat the Czech Republic’s Dmitrij Prokopcov, the no.19 seed (9-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-7, 11-6).

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the top seed, accounted for Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, the no.23 seed (11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5); Panagiotis of Greece, the no.2 seed, beat Oleksandr Didukh, also from Ukraine and a qualifier (11-5, 11-9, 11-3, 11-8), whilst Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.5 seed, halted the aspirations of Russia’s Kirill Skachkov, the no.26 seed (11-6, 13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10).

The third round and quarter-finals of the Men’s Singles event will be played on Friday 5th May.

Challenge Series 2017 Zagreb (Croatia) Open Quadri Aruna Yuto Kizukuri Andrej Gacina Wang Xi

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