by Simon Daish
11th seed Omar Assar experienced an opening day scare with the Egyptian being forced to wait right down to the concluding group match to learn his fate.
Struggling across the line in the opening encounter against the host nation’s Cedric Nuytinck (9-11, 10-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8), Omar Assar narrowly lost out to Russia’s Alexander Shibaev in the second group fixture (11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 10-12, 13-11, 7-11, 7-11) to leave the battle for second position in the balance.
Qualification was still very much a possibility for Cedric Nuytinck, but unfortunately for the home crowd the Belgian contestant couldn’t stop Alexander Shibaev from earning his second victory of the day which coincidentally also resulted in a Round of 16 place for Omar Assar.
The opening day of play turned out to be slightly more problematic for Lee Sangsu than previously expected as the Korea Republic contestant required the full match distance against both Kanak Jha (9-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-1, 11-4) and Quadri Aruna (11-8, 1-11, 7-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-4, 12-10), but ultimately the ninth seed secured his safe passage through to the next stage of the competition.
USA’s Kanak Jha and Quadri Aruna then met face-to-face for the remaining qualification spot, and despite another brave display from the American teenager it was Nigerian star Quadri Aruna who progressed through to the next stage of the competition (7-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-5).
Over in Group B Portuguese competitor Marcos Freitas looked in strong form, coming through both of his opening matches against Australia’s David Powell (11-7, 11-3, 11-2, 11-9) and Ukraine’s Kou Lei (11-3, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5) without dropping a single game.
The other fixture saw Kou Lei come out on top against David Powell in straight games (11-7, 11-2, 11-4, 11-3) to claim second position in Group B.
Group D got off to a dramatic start as Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An withdrew from the competition through illness.
Chen Chien-An’s disappointing news resulted in automatic qualification for the two other players contesting Group D. All that was left to be decided was the final order of the standings and Jeong Sangeun’s victory over Gustavo Tsuboi handed the Korea Republic representative first position in the group with the Brazilian settling for the runner up spot.