by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Furthermore, the 26 year old, who also won in Lagos in 2014 and 2015 when the tournament was part of the ITTF World Tour and is presently listed at no.39 on the Men’s World Rankings, is not alone.
Japan’s Jin Ueda, who emerged successful in the Challenge Series tournament in Thailand earlier this year, must compete in the qualification stage, as must India’s Soumyajit Ghosh. He won in April in Chile.
Likewise, the names of Frenchman Tristan Flore and Sweden’s Jon Persson also appear in in the initial phase of proceedings. Both were ITTF Challenge Series runners up earlier this year, Tristan Flore in Croatia, Jon Persson in Slovenia.
Meanwhile, like Omar Assar, there are those who have secured ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles, who must fight for a main draw place.
Germany’s Ricardo Walther, the winner in 2014 in Croatia, is on first day duty, as is Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, successful the same year in Hungary. Also, required to qualify is Romania’s Adrian Crisan, gold medallist in Rio de Janeiro in 2005. Similarly Iranian brothers Noshad Alamiyan and Nima Alamian must start their quest on day one. Noshad Alamiyan won in Morocco in 2012, three years later Nima Alamian prevailed in Belgium.
Furthermore you can add to the list, players in form this year who must negotiate the first phase; the names of Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Japan’s Kenta Tazoe both appear. Patrick Franziska was the runner up in Korea; last week Kenta Tazoe reached the semi-final stage in Bulgaria.
It is only marginally different in the Women’s Singles qualification tournament where one name in particular stands out. Viktoria Pavlovich won on home soil in Belarus in 2008 but more pertinently she is a previous winner in Olomouc; she emerged successful in 2013.
A notable name and there are four more to note in the Women’s Singles qualification tournament. All have enjoyed ITTF World Tour success. Japan’s Saki Shibata won in Belarus in 2016, colleague Miyu Maeda in Chile in 2014; in a similar vein Russia’s Polina Mikhailova also enjoyed success in Belarus, she won in 2012, colleague Maria Dolgikh, in Egypt one year later.
The outcome, on Thursday 24th August when the main event starts there could well be first round upsets; expect fireworks!