by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A surprise defeat, a player with no current world ranking but Xu Chenhao is a player of high quality as he displayed on his most recent ITTF World Tour appearance.
In Japan in 2013 in the main draw of the Men’s Singles event he beat Singapore’s Gao Ning, followed by success against Hong Kong’s Tang Peng prior to overcoming redoubtable colleague Wang Liqin to book his place in the semi-final round. Impressively, he continued his fine form beating Korea’s Kim Minseok, before the host nation’s Masato Shiono ended title ambitions. Furthermore, on that occasion he won the Under 21 Men’s Singles event defeating Wu Zhikang, like Gao Ning from Singapore, in the final.
“Today played my strong, aggressive attacking game; I feel I am in good shape.” Xu Chenhao
Defeat at the hands of a qualifier, it was the same for Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.9 seed, Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson, the no.11 seed and England’s Paul Drinkhall, the no.15 seed.
Similar to Omar Assar, Emmanuel Lebesson suffered at Chinese hands, he was beaten by Liu Dingshuo (12-10, 11-9, 13-11, 11-7); meanwhile, Mattias Karlsson experienced defeat when facing Kazakhstan’s ever improving Kirill Gerassimenko (9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4), Paul Drinkhall’s hopes were ended by Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting (11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6).
“My plan was to try to play really fast over the table so he would not be able to attack against me easily. My short game was very important as well, everything worked for me.” Liao Cheng-Ting
“He played very very aggressively; I was not stable enough to compete against his game.” Paul Drinkhall
Problems for Sweden and there was more disappointment for the Nordic country. Jon Persson was beaten by Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the no.12 seed (10-12, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8, 11-13, 11-6); however there was the other side of the coin. Kristian Karlsson, the no.6 seed, recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Quentin Robinot of France (7-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9).
“Historically our balance is more his way but after two-two, I played in a more attacking manner, taking the initiative; I knew at that stage I had a good chance. The crucial moment came in game five when I was leading 8-5; he made come back to 8-7 but I was able to stay on top. I am very happy for this win, now we just need to wait to see who is next for me.” Kristian Karlsson
Wins as status advised, it was the same for Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, he beat Chinese Taipei’s Sun Chia-Hung (11-8, 11-9, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7).
“Mentally I was very strong in this match, even after the game that I lost. He made some changes but I responded to them really well. It is a good start to the competition I have to keep working hard to play better next round.” Hugo Calderano
Likewise, Germany’s Ruwen Filus, the no.5 seed, was in form. Utilising his defensive skills to the full, he halted the aspirations of Portugal’s João Geraldo (11-6, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9).
“Right from start I knew it will be a very tough match for me, I needed to work as hard as I could to be the winner here today. At some crucial moments I was able turn the match in my favour.” Ruwen Filus
“I had a good start, I like to play against him, he plays an open game and I trust my abilities. I need to spend a bit more time in the training hall against players of a similar style. I wish the best for him for the next round.” João Geraldo
The remaining matches in the first round of the Men’s Singles event will be concluded later in the day.