by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
However, Fang Yinchi is no stranger to international play; notably last year at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Hybiome Austrian Open, in the opening round, he beat Germany’s Patrick Franziska before losing to Brazil’s Hugo Calderano.
A surprise defeat for Patrick Franziska some ten months ago, it was almost the same in Olomouc; unbeaten the previous day and at no.56 on the current World Rankings, he was stretched to the very limit by the host nation’s Tomas Polansky in the contest to decide first place (11-3, 11-8, 7-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-13, 11-9). Currently, Tomas Polansky is named at no.188 in the global order.
Top place secured by a narrow margin; for Laurens Tromer of the Netherlands, pole position was reserved by an even narrower margin. Named at no.216 in the world order; on the first day of play, he had caused an upset by overcoming Germany’s Benedikt Duda, listed at no.52 (6-11, 11-4, 11-6, 5-11, 13-11, 4-11, 11-3).
In the concluding group matches Benedikt Duda beat Croatia’s Frane Kojic (8-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6) but Laurens Tromer experienced defeat in hard fought duel when facing Frenchman, Loïc Bobiller (11-13, 11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9). The end result was that Benedikt Duda and Laurens Tromer finished the group with two wins each. In such instances the result of the match between the two tied players decides. Thus it was top spot for Laurens Tromer.
Similarly and against expectations, it was the same verdict involving Chile’s Juan Lamadrid. He emerged arguably the most surprise player to secure a first place. At no.349 he was the lowest rated player in his group behind Frenchman Abdel-Kader Salifou, named at no.119, England’s Sam Walker at no.131 and Russia’s Denis Ivonin listed at no.324.
Responding to the challenge, Juan Lamadrid beat Denis Ivonin by the very narrowest of margins (5-11, 11-8, 6-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9) in his concluding group stage contest. The effect was that he finished his initial itinerary with two wins, the same as Abdel-Kader Salifou. However, having beaten the Frenchman on the opening day (11-9, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7), top place in the group was secured.
First place in the group against expectations for Juan Lamadrid, good news for Chile but the country with the greatest cause for celebration was Slovenia. Against expectations Deni Kozul, Jan Zibrat and Darko Jorgic all finished in first places.
Likewise, aspiring Chinese players upset the odds. In addition to Fang Yinchi; first places were secured contrary to global status by Li Yijie and Xue Fei.
Similarly, Slovakia’s Bai He, Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko and Frenchman Benjamin Brossier defied the odds to top their respective groups. Notable performances but from a home point of view the efforts of Tomas Tregler caught the eye; also he emerged a somewhat surprise group winner.