by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The win in Hong Kong meant that when the World Ranking list for December 1997 was issued; for the first time in his career, Vladimir Samsonov stood in top spot.
Also, the 1997 Grand Finals witnessed the first use of “Time Out” and, as he neared victory over China’s Wang Liqin in the final, the 21 year old was somewhat uncertain as to whether or not to take a break.
A series of firsts and now in 2017, there are more. It is the first time that Vladimir Samsonov has ever competed in an ITTF World Tour tournament in Oceania. Notably he has won all parts of the world; he has won in the continents of Africa, America, Asia and Europe; the question posed is as to whether he can win in Gold Coast.
If he achieves the feat it will not only be a personal first, it will be a first ever. He will become the only player, male or female, to have emerged successful in all five continents.
At the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Australia Open, in the Men’s Singles event, Vladimir Samsonov is the no.4 seed; Japan’s Jun Mizutani is the top seed.
Notably, the appearance of Jun Mizutani adds to the first scenario. No player has ever won the Men’s Singles title at an ITTF World Tour tournament in Australia on more than one occasion; Jun Mizutani won last year in Melbourne.
A first for Vladimir Samsonov, a first for Jun Mizutani; there are notable names that may prevent the scenario being realised. Jun Mizutani’s colleagues could well influence the outcome.
Koki Niwa is the second seed; Kenta Matsudaira and Yuto Muramatsu complete the top eight names. Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan is the second seed, Portugal’s Marcos Freitas and Frenchman Simon Gauzy, the respective fifth and sixth seeds.
First place the goal but will it be a first that has a special place, a milestone moment?