by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
A surprise win, perhaps not; in Egypt he had beaten Rares Sipos in the final of both the Junior Boys’ Singles and Junior Boys’ Team events.
Furthermore, the win means that Denis Ivonin ends the day as the only unbeaten player in the group; for Rares Sipos and Sharon Alguetti of the United States, it is one win each. Earlier in proceedings, Rares Sipos had overcome Argentina’s Francisco Sanchi, the no.11 seed (11-5, 11-8, 11-3, 11-3), an outcome which Sharon Alguetti, the no.14 seed, emulated but in a much closer duel. He prevailed against the Argentine teenager but needed the full seven games (11-8, 11-3, 2-11, 11-4, 2-11, 4-11, 11-6).
“After I lost my three-one lead, I started to make mistakes. At the same time it seemed as if Francisco got a second wind. He continued to play very well, he levelled at three-all. In the final game and even though I started poorly by losing the first four points, I still thought I could just let him make the mistakes, I still had a chance. I am quite happy I won and at the end, I think I had more energy left than Francisco; that’s what made the difference. So today I lost one match and won one and look forward to coming back tomorrow and just try to play my game.” Sharon Alguetti
Francisco Sanchi now faces Denis Ivonin in the concluding group stage contest; Rares Sipos opposes Sharon Alguetti.
Defeat for Rares Sipos but there was success for Romania. Cristian Pletea, the no.2 seed, beat Russia’s Artur Abusev, the no.8 seed, by the very narrowest of decisions (11-9, 4-11, 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-9) and thus ended the day unbeaten. Success for Cristian Pletea, in the same group India’s Manush Utpalbhai Shah, the no.9 seed, kept quarter-final hopes alive. Having lost to Cristian Pletea earlier in the day (11-4, 5-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-8), he recovered to beat Luxembourg’s Ademir Balaban, the no.15 seed (11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5), the surprise winner earlier in the day over Artur Abusev (11-6, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8).
In the concluding group matches Cristian Pletea plays Ademir Balaban, Artur Abusev meets Manush Utpalbhai Shah.
“My opponent must have had good preparation. He didn’t make many mistakes and his forehand was awesome. Tomorrow I will play against Pletea. It will be a very hard match, but I want to win.” Ademir Balaban
“The match against Ademir Balaban was very important for me because I lost against Pleatea today and I will play tomorrow against Abusev. I lost already against Abusev during the World Junior Championships, he is a very good defensive player.” Manush Utpalbhai Shah
Cristian Pletea is the favourite for top spot but nothing is official; it is the same for Egypt’s Youssef Abdel-Aziz, the no.10 seed who in his opening match beat Kanak Jha of the United States, the top seed (5-11, 13-11, 11-3, 7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7). He continued his good form to overcome Australia’s Rohan Dhooria, the no.16 seed (11-4, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5). In his concluding group phase engagement, he meets Frenchman Bastian Rembert, the no.7 seed; after accounting for Rohan Dhooria (11-4, 11-4, 11-1, 11-6) he was beaten by a rejuvenated Kanak Jha (11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10).
“After the first match I was motivated to win this important match against Rembert. The first match I was nervous and I didn’t play aggressive enough. I had to win this match and I won. Now I’m looking forward for the next match tomorrow.” Kanak Jha
Main draw places to be decided, for India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar, the no.3 seed, a quarter-final place had been reserved. He beat Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin, the no.5 seed (11-5, 11-4, 8-11, 4-11, 11-2, 11-2).
“I played reasonably well today but not very good. I must play better tomorrow. I was scared because, Feng Yi-Hsin was a very good opponent. I want to reach the semi-finals in Luxembourg. The most important thing is to win a medal for my country.” Manav Vikash Thakkar
Second place in the group now rests on the duel between Feng Yi-Hsin and Austria’s Maciej Kolodziejczyk, the no.12 seed; like Feng Yi-Hsin, he ended the day with one win to his name. In his opening day concluding contest, he beat Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun the no.13 seed (4-11, 11-3, 11-6, 2-11, 11-5, 11-5).
“After this match I feel very relieved. I had a bad start but I could fight back; this is a very important tournament, I had beaten him once before, that was good for my self-confidence. Tomorrow I have match against Feng Yi-Hsin. My goal is to win that match because I want to win here in Luxembourg and achieve an excellent result.” Maciej Koldziejczyk
Players finishing in first and second positions in each of the four groups advance to the last eight. The group stage of the Boys’ Singles event concludes on Saturday 3rd February.