by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Defeat but it was a most impressive performance, he suffered in five games but was within a whisker of establishing a two games to nil lead (12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4).
“Kirill gave me some problems, he has been playing well in this competition; he has beaten good players. I was focused on my game and played this match point by point.” Fan Zhendong
“I have had an amazing competition in Hungary, I beat many good players and I think I really challenged Fan Zhendong in some of the exchanges.” Kirill Gerassimenko
It was yet another fine performance by Kirill Gerassimenko in Budapest. Last year he won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title overcoming Frenchman Can Akkuzu in the final and, just as 12 months ago, the coach sitting courtside was Dimitrij Levenko.
“I am really proud of him; these two days have been like a dream. We are heading in the right direction.” Dimitrij Levenko
Success for Fan Zhendong; there was also success for colleague Liu Dingshuo, he beat Xu Chenhao in the battle of the Chinese qualifiers. Victory but he had to resist a brave recovery by his compatriot, before sealing the win by the very narrowest of decisions (11-3, 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10).
“When we play it is always 50:50 between us, you can see that in the score-line, 12-10 in the seventh game.” Liu Dingshuo
A close call for Liu Dingshuo but progress; for Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia who had also been required to compete in the qualification tournament, it was the end of the road; he was beaten in four straight games by Sweden’s in-form Kristian Karlsson, the no.6 seed (11-7, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9).
“I don’t think Tiago was at his best today but I remained strong mentally and was able to convert every opportunity I had.” Kristian Karlsson
“I felt tired today, the last couple of weeks got me; so it time to rest a bit and recover.” Tiago Apolonia
Imposing from Kristian Karlsson; it was very much the same from Denmark’s Jonathan Groth.
Furthermore, he upset the pecking order; the no.13 seed, he beat Germany’s Ruwen Filus, the no.5 seed, in five games (11-6, 10-12, 11-6, 11-2, 11-9).
At the quarter-final stage, in the top half of the draw Fan Zhendong meets Kristian Karlsson; in the lower half, Liu Dingshuo opposes Jonathan Groth; the round of last eight matches are due to start at 1.50pm (local time) in Saturday 20th January.