by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Notably on the current Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings Matteo Mutti who is not seeded in Riva del Garda and was thus required to compete in the qualification group stage is listed at no.42; conversely, Cristian Pletea is at no.7.
“Today my head was good, I was really focused. I wanted to win because I am playing here in Italy and I wanted to reward the spectators who were here to support me. At the start of the match, I did not receive service well but then I got better; I felt quite confident in the top spin rallies but you never know with Cristian he’s a very talented player. The main thing was I kept calm.” Matteo Mutti
Success contrary to expectations for Matteo Mutti and he was not alone. Also in the top half of the draw Korea’s Kwak Yubin beat Japan’s Yukiya Uda, the no.10 seed, in arguably the closest contest of the round (8-11, 11-2, 8-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 12-10), whilst Chinese Taipei’s Li Hsin-Yang accounted for Frenchman Irvin Bertrand, the no.15 seed, in a less dramatic manner (5-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-8, 13-11).
Upsets in the top half of the draw; it was the same in the lower half. Romania’s Rares Sipos beat Ioannis Sgouropoulos of Greece (4-11, 11-5, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-2), Japan’s Yuta Tanaka overcame Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko, the no.13 seed (11-8, 11-3, 13-11, 7-11, 11-7), whilst Sweden’s Truls Moregard ended the hopes of Kanak Jha of the United States, the no.9 seed (11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5).
“I knew I could win, in the team event I lost some close matches, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; yesterday I was 8-5 down in the seventh game against Leo de Nordest and won so that gave me confidence for today. I’ve played Kanak many times, it’s always close; today my head was good and I fought.” Truls Moregard
Surprises and there was nearly one more, China’s Xu Haidong needed the full seven games to overcome the defensive skills of Russia’s Artur Abusev (11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 12-14, 11-7, 4-11, 11-8).
“I still don’t have enough strength so I don’t have any absolute advantage in the defence vesus attack rallies. I did expect it to be a tough match before we started. So even though I had difficulties in the match, I was determined to overcome all of them and win the match.” Xu Haidong
Meanwhile, for the leading names in the second round of the Boys’ Singles event, there were no great travails. China’s Xue Fei, the top seed, beat Germany’s Gerritt Engemann (11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8), colleague Niu Guangkai, the no.3 seed, overcame Tom Jarvis, offering the Englishman no presents on his 18th birthday (13-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 13-11), whilst Japan’s Yuto Kizukuri, the no.2 seed, ended the hopes of the Czech Republic’s Jiri Martinko (9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-13, 11-4, 11-7).