by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
An opportunity; in recent times Jiang Tianyi has not enjoyed the best of fortunes but at least he does have the consolation of two ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles to his name. In 2008 he won in Brazil, in 2015 in Hungary.
It is an achievement that despite all his efforts, has avoided Robert Gardos; one the hardest working players you could ever meet, time is running out for the now 38 year old.
He has come near but never near enough; in 2006 he hit a purple patch, a series of good results, at the ITTF World Tour Chile Open in Santiago, he came within a whisker of gold. In the final, he was beaten by Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus. Furthermore, he was so close to two titles on that day. Earlier in the afternoon he had won the Men’s Doubles event in partnership with Chen Weixing. They beat the combination of Hungary’s Ferenc Pazsy and Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic to secure the top prize.
The name of Bojan Tokic does not appear on the Spanish entry list but there is a Slovenian name to note; just as Robert Gardos and Jiang Tianyi departed proceedings in the qualification stage in Stockholm, so Darko Jorgic progressed. He reached the opening round, losing to Koki Niwa but he tested the Japanese star, the contest needed six games in order to reach a decision.
Likewise on duty in Almeria are Korea’s Cho Seungmin and Park Ganghyeon. Last year in Minsk, Cho Seungmin claimed the Under 21 Men’s Singles title; more recently, Park Ganghyeon won in Stockholm beating Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hang in the final, a player who is also competing in Almeria. Success in an ITTF Challenge Series tournament is the next step for the likes of Darko Jorgic, Cho Seungmin, Park Ganghyeon and Lam Siu Hang.
Equally, there are those on duty in the Mediterranean coastal resort who have made the next step. Iranian brothers Noshad Alamiyan and Nima Alamian will both compete. Notably on the ITTF World Tour, Noshad Alamiyan won in 2012 in Morocco, Nima Alamiyan in 2015 in Belgium.
Similarly, India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the winner in Belgium in 2016, will be on duty, as will Abdel Kader Salifou of France; in 2013 he won in Morocco, Egypt and Croatia.
A chance to make a mark once again and somewhat similar to Robert Gardos, there are those who have impressed at Challenge tournaments in particular but have yet to reserve a podium finish; Spain’s Alvaro Robles alongside Japan’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura and Kenji Matsudaira are names to note.