by Wade Townsend
Lubomir Pistej (SVK) has caused the biggest upset of the Liebherr 2017 World Table Tennis Championships so far by knocking out the 11th seed, Jeoung Youngisk (KOR), in the first round of the Men’s Singles.
Pistej was extremely happy with the win, but not shocked by the result.
“I surprised him, not myself. All players from the top hundred can play at a high enough level to beat anyone.” Lubomir Pistej
Going in to the match Pistej thought he was going to struggle with the stylistic matchup, but it wasn’t the case.
“I was comfortable with his serve and it turned out really his play wasn’t too difficult for me. He didn’t know what to expect. I like to play people who don’t know me, as I’m a little unorthodox.” Lubomir Pistej
On the table next door, another upset was occurring.
Cheng-Ting Liao (TPE) defeated 19th seed Kristian Karlsson (SWE) 4-1.
“The this is my best win so. I was actually surprised to be straight in to the main draw and not playing the qualification rounds.” Cheng-Ting Liao
Liao was still finding it hard to contain his excitement after the match.
“I was much more excited and nervous compared to practice. I had to make myself more mentally stimulated to bypass the pressure.” Cheng-Ting Liao
In the main hall, Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) was given a scare by Lubomir Jancarik (CZE), with the Czech taking the match to a sixth game, but with the German ultimately prevailing in front of his home crowd.
Meanwhile, Xu Xin (CHN) found himself in an even tighter situation against Tomas Polansky (CZE). Polansky took the opening game and led 5-1 in the second. Xu was able to muster a comeback and win that game 11-9. But Polansky wasn’t going anywhere, pushing the match to a sixth game. A boisterous Chinese crowd was able to see their hero over the line, but only just. Xu took the sixth game 11-9 to win the match.
However, there may have been more at stake in the match than meets the eye.
Liu Guoliang has stated that if Xu Xin has a poor performance at this World Championships, then he would no longer be considered one of the top four players in the Chinese national team; nervous days lay ahead for Xu Xin.