by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
However, for the next in line, Hungary’s Adam Szudi, the seventh highest rated player on qualification stage duty, despite a brave effort, it was to be disappointment.
In his opening contest on the first day of action he had been beaten by Austria’s Thomas Grininger, he lost in four games (11-7, 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10) but in the ensuing contest Valentin Pieraert had accounted for Thomas Grininger in six games (13-11, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-3).
On the second day of play, in order to top the group Adam Szudi needed to beat Valentin Pieraert in four straight games; he won but in six games (11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 11-6). Thus on games ratio it was first place for Thomas Grininger (6:5) with Valentin Pieraert in second position (6:6) and Adam Szudi, in third spot (5:6).
A surprise casualty but the Hungarian was not alone, Kanak Jha of the United States, on duty at the recent Liebherr 2017 Men’s World Cup, experienced a surprise defeat, whilst for India’s Sarthak Gandhi, the runner up earlier this year at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open in Lagos there was a second defeat.
Both the highest rated players in their respective groups, Kanak Jha was beaten by Moldova’s Andrei Putintica (9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7); Sarthak Gandhi after losing to Konstantinos Angelakis of Greece (3-11, 11-8, 3-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6), experienced lost to Rakjo Gommers of the Netherlands (15-13, 11-7, 13-15, 10-12, 14-12, 11-4).
The hard fought win meant top place in the group for Rajko Gommers; on the initial day of play he had accounted for Konstantinos Angelakis in seven games, an engagement in which he recovered from a three games to nil deficit (3-11, 7-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-7, 11-4).
“I had a strong Greek player in my group but managed to win four-three. Another win was needed to get through in my last group match against the Indian Sarthak Gandi. We were of the same level but I kept fighting and managed to win. I am really happy with my level of play and hope to get further in the tournament. I enjoy playing in challenger tournaments. The atmosphere is great and I have a chance to cause some upsets.” Rakjo Gommers
A notable effort from Rajko Gommers, as the group stage of the Men’s Singles qualification tournament concluded there were several highly creditable performances; Spain’s Carlo Franco and Michel Vilchez alongside Russia’s Denis Ivonin all beat the highest rated players in their respective groups to secure first places.
Carlos Franco beat Lithuania’s Tomas Mikutis (12-10, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 3-11, 11-9), Michel Vilchez accounted for Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes (12-14, 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-8); Denis Ivonin ended the hopes of Ewout Ooswouder, like Rajko Gomers from the Netherlands (11-3, 11-8, 11-8, 12-14, 11-6).