by Simon Daish
Maria Dolgikh is one of three Russians competing in the Women’s Singles qualifying group stage, and is the top ranked player in Group 3.
However, Dolgikh could face a difficult start to her campaign in Panagyurishte facing the ever improving Melanie Diaz of Puerto Rico in her opening group match.
India will be hoping to see good representation in Thursday’s main draw, and with three of the country’s players placed at the top of their respective qualifying groups the chances of achieving that goal are fairly positive.
Mouma Das has been drawn in Group 13 which contains four players, and the Indian star will hope to make a good early impression in Bulgaria with opening fixtures against the host nation’s Mihaela Dimova and Daniela Moskovits of Sweden.
One player who is hopeful of continuing her good form is Hungarian star Szandra Pergel, who heads into qualifying action off the back of a solid outing at the recent 2017 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open in Lagos.
Szandra Pergel faces Anelia Karova of Bulgaria on day one of the qualification tournament in Panagyurishte.
Japan is well placed to achieve success in the Men’s Singles qualification group stage, with six of the Asian country’s contestants occupying top spot in their groups.
Yuto Kizukuri is one of Japan’s brightest young stars and could be in for a positive campaign in Bulgaria, but first he is required to negotiate the qualification tournament and his first test comes in the shape of Ukrainian representative Viktor Didukh.
Following a wonderful showing at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, Lubomir Pistej has captured the hearts of table tennis fans across the world and the competitor from the Slovak Republic will be in action on the opening day of qualifying action in Bulgaria.
Providing the opposition for the World number 114 is Lorencio Lupulesku, and Lubomir Pistej will feel confident of coming through the tie with a victory to his name having seen off the Serbian player last year in a qualifying match ahead of the 2016 ITTF World Tour Hybiome Austrian Open.
Two young French stars will feature in Men’s Singles qualifying action in Bulgaria with Can Akkuzu and Enzo Angles beginning their respective journeys with encounters against India’s Ronit Bhanja and Filip Radovic of Montenegro.