by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In the second match of the opening day of play, Cristian Pletea opposes the defensive skills of Artur Abusev, Rares Sipos faces Denis Ivonin.
Last year on the 2017 ITTF World Junior Circuit, in Poland, Cristian Pletea was beaten by Artur Abusev at the semi-final stage of the Junior Boys’ Singles event; some five months later in Egypt, Rares Sipos was beaten in the final of the Junior Boys’ Team competition and at the same stage of the Junior Boys’ Singles event by Denis Ivonin. There is a debt to settle in Luxembourg.
Cristian Pletea opens his campaign against India’s Manush Utpalbhai Shah, Rares Sipos faces Argentina’s Francisco Sanchi. Meanwhile, Artur Abusev confronts the host nation’s Ademir Balaban, Denis Ivonin opposes Sharon Alguetti of the United States in what could prove one of the most intriguing opening series contests. Sharon Alguetti won the Junior Boys’ Singles title at the Serbia Junior and Cadet Open, notably beating India’s Manuv Vikash Thakkar in the final, the player who ended the year on top spot on the Standings.
Similarly, there is an opening round engagement for Manav Vikash Thakkar, the no.3 seed, that catches the eye; the winner in 2017 in both India and Slovenia, he opposes Austria’s Maciej Kolodziejczyk in his opening contest. Impressively last year Maciej Kolodziejczyk won in Italy. In the counterpart opening series contests, in the same group Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin, yet to win an ITTF World Junior Circuit Boys’ Singles title, faces Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun, the champion some two months ago in Portugal.
Testing opponents for major title contenders, it is no different for Kanak Jha of the United States, the top seed and winner last year in both Argentina and Croatia. In his second encounter of the day he confronts Bastien Rembert, the winner in 2017 on home soil in France. Kanak Jha faces Egypt’s Youssef Abdel-Aziz in his opening contest, Bastian Rembert confronts Australia’s Rohan Dhooria.
Players finishing in first and second places in each of the four groups advance to the quarter-finals; the initial stage concludes on Saturday 3rd February.