by Simon Daish
Third seed Quadri Aruna met face-to-face with the ever improving French star Can Akkuzu in the Round of 32, as spectators in Bulgaria were treated to a fantastic duel in the upper half of the Men’s Singles draw.
Despite leading by three games to one Aruna struggled to finish off his opponent and Akkuzu went on to frustrate the Nigerian, claiming back-to-back ends to force a deciding game.
The momentum was with Akkuzu but Aruna stood firm, holding off the unseeded player before eventually edge over the finish line (5-11, 11-8, 6-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 8-11).
“… Everyone that qualifies for the main draw makes a good match. I was leading 3-0 and then he (Akkuzu) came back into the match. Finally, I almost gave up in the last game, but I came back and was leading 6-2. That was a very good match for me!” Quadri Aruna.
England’s Paul Drinkhall has suffered an early exit in Panagyurishte, falling at the first hurdle in the Men’s Singles event.
One of the standout players last time out on the ITTF World Tour on the Gold Coast Paul Drinkhall would have been keen to extend his good form on his visit to Bulgaria, however, it was not to be for the Englishman as Asuka Machi of Japan came through the tie in straight games (11-13, 9-11, 7-11, 3-11) to advance through to the last 16.
Mizuki Oikawa enjoyed a successful start to the 2017 Bulgaria Open with his capture of the Under 21 Men’s Singles title, and the young competitor put in another impressive shift in his opening Men’s Singles main draw encounter.
Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic was the player who lost out to Mizuki Oikawa as the eighth seed failed to prevent the Japanese representative from producing his best table tennis (4-11, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10, 4-11, 4-11).
Top seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov extended his journey in the Men’s Singles event with a six games win against Russian contestant Kirill Skachkov (11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 9-11, 15-13, 11-1) and will meet Elias Ranefur in the next round after Quentin Robinot withdrew from the last 32 match against the Swedish player due to injury.
“Kirill played well and we know each other from many junior and senior tournaments. The fourth game brought him back into the match and then the fifth game brought me into the match and I am glad that I will be in the second round and hopefully play better tomorrow”, Dimitij Ovtcharov.