by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Standing at no.91 on the current Men’s World Rankings, as status predicted Abdel-Kader Salifou beat Korea’s Seo Hyundeok, listed at no.109; he won by the very narrowest of seven game margins (11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9).
Meanwhile, Can Akkuzu caused somewhat of a surprise by overcoming the host nation’s Jon Persson (6-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4); Can Akkuzu is named at no.115 in the global order, Jon Persson with the advantage of local crowd support, playing on home soil, is at no.104.
Fine performances but pride of place went to Romain Lorentz; listed at no.155 on the current rankings, he ended the hopes of Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan, named at no.63 and the Men’s Singles winner on the ITTF World Tour in 2012 in Morocco.
In a tension packed duel, a seventh game where no player held more than a one point lead until Romain Lorentz possessed two match points at 10-8, the Frenchman eventually prevailed (4-11, 9-11, 11-8,11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10).
“We have played many times before and it is always close; earlier this year we played in Slovenia, I won four-two but it was like today, every game close. He changes the play very quickly, unpredictable, it’s difficult to find a rhythm against him. For sure his backhand is his strength.” Romain Lorentz
Noshad Alamiyan is a fighter, a player with great determination and he has been know when necessary to change the racket from his left to right hand; count him out at your peril.
“I lost the first two games, in the seventh game we were level at 8-all, I went ahead 10-8; he was serving. I missed a service return; then he played a great point. I took my time to serve at 10-all, I won the point when he returned long, then I won the next.” Romain Lorentz
The qualification tournament concludes on Wednesday 15th November.