by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
He is drawn in the same group as colleague Yuki Matsuyama and Mexico’s Marcos Madrid.
Winner of Men’s Singles events on the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour in both Croatia and Spain, he is not the only male player who has more than one such title to his name and must compete in the qualification event.
Jeoung Youngsik, ever more vital to Korean hopes, like Maharu Yoshimura successful in 2015 when he won in Australia and Korea, also appears in the initial phase of proceedings. Furthermore, he is not the highest rated in what is a mouth-watering group. Currently listed at no.28 on the Men’s World Rankings, Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An is the leading name; Jeoung Youngsik is at no.89.
Notable names and they better be in form; completing the group is a young man very much in form. Alexandre Robinot, crowned French champion one day ago is the third named player.
Equally, two ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles to his name, successful in Brazil in 2008 and Hungary in 2015 but very much out of sorts in recent times Hong Kong’s Jiang Tianyi is also on qualification duty. He faces Romania’s Hunor Szocs and Sweden’s Hampus Soderlund.
Two titles for Maharu Yoshimura and Jeoung Youngsik in 2015; two years earlier Frenchman Abdel-Kader Salifou won three when he succeeded in Morocco, Egypt and Croatia. He confronts England; he is in the same group as Pau,l Drinkhall and David McBeath. Pertinently, Paul Drinkhall emerged successful in 2014 in Spain; it is yet another instance where a group stage match is worthy of a final.
Also, add the name of China’s Fang Bo to the list. Only one ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title to his name, in 2013 he won in Austria, before two years later reaching the final at the Qoros 2015 World Championships. Pertinently he extended compatriot Ma Long to six games. It is most creditable curriculum vitae for a player who must qualify.
Prominent names who have won ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles and you can add to the list others who one to their name and must compete in the qualification tournament.
Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, Germany’s Ricardo Walther in addition to Korea’s Jiang Woojin and Kim Donghyun have all stood on the top step of the podium on the final day of play, as has Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit as wee as the Indian duo of Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran. It is the same with regards to Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan, Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, Finland’s Bendek Olah, Romania’s Adrian Crisan and China’s Liu Dingshuo.
Meanwhile, there are those who last year won Challenge Series tournaments and must play in the qualification event. Additional to Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Kim Donghyun, players with ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles, who last year won in Spain and Belgium respectively, the names of Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, India’s Soumyajit Ghosh, Japan’s Jin Ueda and Germany’s Bastian Steger all appear in the qualification tournament.
It’s tough, very tough but for an ITTF World Tour Platinum Open is that not how it should be?