by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Koki Niwa, the no.3 seed, despite some moments when concentration seemed to wander, beat Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, a young man who is improving by the tournament; Koki Niwa emerged successful in six games (11-9, 11-4, 11-7, 10-12, 11-13, 11-4).
Likewise, Xu Xin, the no.2 seed, emerged successful but he was taking no prisoners; Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An threatened in the second and third games but once three games to the good, Xu Xin was in the fast lane (11-7, 12-10, 12-10, 11-3). It was the same from Fang Bo, the no.7 seed; he ended the aspiration’s of Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko (11-4, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 12-10).
Imposing from Fang Bo and Xu Xin, for Kenta Matsudaira, the no.6 seed, life was more exacting; he was tested by Korea’s Kim Donghyun (11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9).
“It was a hard match, in the sixth game I was losing 6-8, I came back to lead 10-9; he took a “Time Out”. I was serving; I changed my service and won the point.” Kenta Matsudaira.
Time and again in the contest, Kenta Matsudaira had used his trademark squat service action, the point that won the match was back to basics; conventional service and safe first attack.
Contests without the need for a deciding game; not for Jonathan Groth it was quite the antithesis. He needed the full seven games to cause one of the biggest upsets of the day.
He caused Korea more pain by beating Lee Sangsu, the no.9 seed and very much a player in form. Earlier this year he had reached the semi-finals of the Men’s Singles event at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships, beating Zhang Jike en route; one week ago in Germany he advanced to the same round, having at the quarter-final stage ousted another Chinese celebrity, Xu Xin.
Jonathan Groth emerged successful by the very narrowest of margins (11-8, 12-10, 7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 2-11, 12-10).
“I’m so pleased; that is one of the best wins of my life. No, it’s the best win of my life, the very best! Last week he beat Xu Xin in Germany, he’s in great form. I started the match well, I won the first two games and in the third led 7-4; then within 30 seconds I’d lost 11-7; I lost concentration, you cannot do that against I player of his level. In the sixth game he killed me; maybe that helped me? It was too easy. In the seventh I led 5-3 at the change of ends; then 10-8, he levelled. I tried so hard to stay focused, I think I managed that; so pleased.” Jonathan Groth.
In round two Jonathan Groth meets Kenta Matsudaira; the match will be played on Friday 17th November.