by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Impressively 20 year old Kirill Gerassimenko, currently standing at no.135 on the World Rankings beat Ricardo Walther, named at no.41 and the winner in 2014 in Croatia (9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 13-11, 11-8).
At the same time, Yuko Kizukuri, ranked no.93, performed similar heroics; he accounted for Patrick Franziska, listed at no.56 and the runner up earlier this year in Korea (11-8, 8-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-3, 12-10).
Success against the odds and there was also success against expectations for the in-form player of the tournament, the player who had unexpectedly ended the hopes of Kirill Gerassimenko in the second round of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event.
Presently occupying to no.210 spot on the current World Rankings, Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju ended the hopes of Russia’s Alexey Liventsov, ranked no.121 (11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-7).
Outstanding performances and there was one more of note. Frenchman, Can Akkuzu, the surprise Under 21 Men’s Singles semi-final nemesis of Yuto Kizukuri, came within an ace of beating Egypt’s Omar Assar, at no.39 the highest rated player in the qualification tournament. World ranked no.136, he extended the 26 year old from Cairo the full five match distance (11-9, 11-3, 9-11, 8-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-6).
Notable efforts against higher rated players; it was the same from the Chinese trio of Fang Yinchi and Li Yijie, both players with no current World Ranking and Xue Fei who is listed at no.153.
However, it was not without moments of trials and tribulations. Fang Yinchi needed the full seven games to beat Iran’s Nima Alamian, ranked no.99 and the winner in Belgium in 2015. He emerged successful by the very narrowest of decisions (7-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9). Similarly, for Xue Fei in opposition to Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu, named at no.62 in the global order, it was success by the minimal two point margin in every one of the seven games (11-9, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10).
Tense moments, for Li Yijie, life was less dramatic. He overcame the host nation’s Michal Obeslo, listed at no.151 on the current global order; he won in five games (11-7, 11-5, 11-4, 8-11, 11-8).
Narrow margins, unexpected wins; in the remaining second preliminary round matches, precedence prevailed.
Notably, Sweden’s Pär Gerell and Anton Källberg alongside Japan’s Jin Ueda and Yuki Matsuyama reserved main draw places as did Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, Frenchman Tristan Flore and Belgium’s Cédric Nuytinck.
Similarly, Portugal’s João Geraldo and Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan also emerged successful in the second preliminary round; the main event now awaits.