by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
However, make no mistake; progress was not without moments of concern.
Against Lee Sangsu, the no.9 seed, Quadri Aruna had been beaten by the narrowest of margins (11-8, 1-11, 7-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-4, 12-10). One wondered as the contest again Kanak Jha of the United States, the no.19 seed, progressed, would there be a similar outcome?
Quadri Aruna trailed by two games to one before levelling matters. He won the fifth and then from 5-all in the sixth game found a rhythm that enabled him to secure six points in a row to seal the victory (7-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-5).
Second place secured, it was the same for Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the no.11 seed, he overcame Australia’s David Powell, the Oceania Cup winner (11-7, 11-2, 11-4, 11-3) and thus finished next in line to Portugal’s Marcos Freitas.
Meanwhile, in the two remaining groups, first position was at stake; Russia’s Alexander Shibaev and Korea’s Jeong Sangeun emerging the successful players.
Alexander Shibaev, the no.16 seed, accounted for the host nation’s Cédric Nuytinck, the no.17 seed (11-8, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5), to end the host nation’s hopes. He secured top spot ahead of Egypt’s Omar Assar, the no.11 seed; Jeong Sangeun, the 15 seed, on Men’s World Cup debut, overcame Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi, the no.18 seed (5-11, 11-4, 13-11, 11-6).
Defeat for Gustavo Tsuboi but with Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An absent through illness, it was second place in the group and progress to the knock-out stage.
Photos: Christophe Neuville