by Simon Daish
Stanislav Golovanov was seeded at the 2016 event in Panagyurishte, but he will have to negotiate the qualification rounds if he is to appear in the Men’s Singles main draw this time around and the Bulgarian has given his chances of achieving that objective a boost following a strong display against Anirban Ghosh.
However, it wasn’t a straightforward start to the campaign for Stanislav Golovanov, who was pushed hard by Indian opponent Anirban Ghosh (14-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 13-11) but a win nonetheless for the Bulgarian.
The home fans also witnessed a decent showing from Petyo Krastev, who came through his match against Serbia’s Lorencio Lupulesku without dropping a game (11-3, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5) while Petko Gabrovski edged to a seven games triumph over Kiryl Barabanov of Belarus (14-12, 6-11, 1-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9).
French contestants got off to a good start in the qualifying group stage, with notable results coming courtesy of Ibrahima Diaw and Romain Ruiz.
Entering the action as the lowest ranked player in Group 4 Ibrahima Diaw has been handed a tough draw, but the Frenchman has received a big confidence boost following a fine outing against David Serdaroglu of Austria (11-6, 10-12, 11-5, 12-10, 11-9).
Romain Ruiz looked to be on the brink of suffering an early defeat in his opening qualifying encounter after India’s Arjun Ghosh established a three games to one lead in the tie, however, Ruiz kept up the fight and went on to pull off a terrific recovery effort (10-12, 4-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10) earning a valuable group win in the process.
One of the major upsets to emerge from the opening round of qualifying fixtures saw Japanese player Taku Takakiwa prevail against Hampus Soderlund.
Sweden’s Hampus Soderlund is the top ranked competitor in Group 29, but has been left with a lot to do in his hunt for qualification after suffering an unexpected five games defeat to Taku Takakiwa (5-11, 11-8, 5-11, 10-12, 5-11).