by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Advised by compatriot Dina Meshref, Omar Assar emerged successful in six games, recovering from a two games to nil deficit to ensure victory (7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 12-10, 11-7).
“Kristian and I always have good matches because we are of the same age, we have played so many matches together, practising together in Halmstad so we know each other’s games very well, that’s why the match was very interesting and very long. He started very well, two-nil. I lacked confidence the beginning, I couldn’t find the timing; afterwards I managed to find a rhythm and played better. After the second game, I spoke with my coach, Dina Meshref and we agreed that we had to change something because he was powerful from the backhand; we tried to change our tactic, to play more open to his forehand and bring him back to backhand. It actually worked so we are happy.” Omar Assar
Victory for Omar Assar was contrary to status; in the remaining contests as the top half of the draw in the Menâ€™s Singles event came to a conclusion, it was success as expected, the higher rated players prevailed.
China’s Yan An and Fang Bo both prevailed; always quick to attack, seizing the earliest possible opportunity, Yan An, the no.7 seed, accounted for Austria’s Stefan Fegerl, the no.11 seed, in six games (16-14, 9-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-4, 11-2).
A testing encounter for Yan An, it was even more exacting for Fang Bo, the no.3 seed; he was thoroughly examined by Hong Kong’s Ng Pak Nam, a young man who had been required to qualify and is increasingly making his presence felt on the international scene. Fang Bo won but he needed the full seven games and had to recover from a three games to one deficit (12-14, 7-11, 11-6, 13-15, 11-9, 13-11, 11-7).
“I was too impatient at the start of the match, too many unforced errors. After that I just let go of all thoughts and played as if I’d lost; try to fight back point by point. During the match coach Xiao Zhan mainly tried to calm me down and stay positive.” Fang Bo
Progress for the winner in 2013, it was also progress for the defending champion; Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira, the no.6 seed. He overcame Frenchman, Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.13 seed (8-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-5).
In the round of the last eight, Omar Assar meets Yan An, Kenta Matsudaira faces Fang Bo.
Both the quarter-final and semi-final matches in the Men’s Singles event will be played on Saturday 23rd September.