by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
In the morning session of play, he had entered his concluding match in the group stage of proceedings, well aware that he needed just one game to secure first place in the group.
On the opening day of play, he had beaten Hungary’s Daniel Kosiba in four straight games (11-7, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3); however, prior to that contest Daniel Kosiba had accounted for Portugal’s João Geraldo by a similar margin (11-9, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10).
Thus win one game against João Geraldo and on games ratio it would be first place (5:4) with Daniel Kosiba in second spot (4:4) and João Geraldo third (4:5); that is exactly what happened and that was the problem. He lost in five games (12-10, 11-9, 4-11, 11-6, 11-8).
“I needed to win one game, I was under pressure; it would have been easier if it had been a normal match. In the second game I was ahead 9-5 and lost; then I said to myself just go for it, just focus on playing not the score. I won the third game easily, it meant he knew he was out. He just played totally carefree, I tried, I didn’t give in but he played some ridiculous shots.” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran
Strange tricks the mind plays but when it came to facing Kim Donghyun, the 25 year old Indian was in the zone and clearly excited with his win; so excited he was confused who he had actually beaten!
“I played really well, my first attack was good, I counter attacked well; I was in good shape. It’s really good to beat a Korean like Jang Woojin, the Koreans always try to play forehands, so I kept changing the direction of my play and creating angles.” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.
Later, Jang Woojin was to lose in real life; he was beaten by Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson (9-11, 11-2, 13-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-13, 13-11)
However, for India there was more success. After having overcome Anton Källberg, like Mattias Karlsson from Sweden (7-11, 11-6, 16-14, 11-8, 9-11, 13-11), Sharath Kamal Achanta, with Massimo Costantini sitting courtside in the coaching role, beat Germany’s Ruwen Filus 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-2m 11-7) to reserve his place in the main draw.
“Two players through to the main draw; that’s good for India, really good.” Massimo Costantini
Hard fought wins and as the preliminary rounds of the Men’s Singles qualification tournament came to a close, there was plenty of tension. In fact full distance seven game verdicts were very much the norm.
Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu-Ju continued to defy the odds, he beat Croatia’s Andrej Gacina (9-11, 14-16, 12-10, 13-11, 14-12, 10-12, 11-5): likewise, Korea’s Lim Jonghoon overcame Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna (11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4) and joining the party Germany’s Benedikt Duda defeated Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An (11-8, 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 3-11, 11-8).
Meanwhile, not to be left out of the select group, Ukraine’s Kou Lei accounted for Japan’s Masataka Morizono (6-11, 11-9, 11-5, 5-11, 14-12, 9-11, 11-3), whilst in the closest of all, Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan ended the hopes of Russia’s Kirill Skackov (11-7, 12-14, 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 16-14).