by Simon Daish
Opening day exits for first and third seeds Lee Sangsu and Jeong Sangeun took the headlines by storm as two of the big favourites in the race for the title suffered unexpected early setbacks.
One player looking to capitalize on the situation is Ukraine’s Kou Lei. Seeded second for the event Kou Lei is regarded as a major contender for silverware in Spala and will fancy his chances against 17th seed Amalraj Anthony in the Round of 16, but after a day of big name upsets can the Indian star add Kou Lei’s name to the list of surprise exits?
Lim Jonghoon narrowly avoided an opening day elimination following a late recovery in his match with Slovenia’s Deni Kozul. Now the Korean has been handed a tough fixture opposing the final Hong Kong representative left in the competition Lam Siu Hang as the eighth and 10th seeded players go head-to-head for a spot in the quarter-finals.
In the upper half of the draw Pavel Sirucek, who was responsible for top seed Lee Sangsu’s dramatic exit, will look to extend his campaign when he meets German qualifier Qiu Dang while up-and-coming talents Darko Jorgic and Antoine Hachard also do battle.
Alina Zaharia has been outstanding so far in Spala, coming through the two-day qualification tournament unscathed before earning two noteworthy victories on the opening day of the main event. But the Romanian’s biggest challenge is yet to arrive with Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee providing the opposition in the last 16 – can the young Romanian star defy the odds again in the Women’s Singles contest?
Four Japanese contestants remain in the draw including Honoka Hashimoto; the fourth seeded player for the event begins the day against Korea Republic’s Choi Hyojoo. If you’re a fan of watching attacking and defensive minded-players going head-to-head then this could be the match for you!
Another interesting tie to keep an eye on sees Russia’s Yana Noskova take on qualifier Margaryta Pesotska: victory has gone to Margaryta Pesotska in all three of their previous encounters at international ranking events, but as a seeded player Yana Noskova will be determined to halt the Ukraine competitor’s fantastic outing in Spala.
Both doubles competitions also feature on day two with positions in the finals up for grabs and the first gold medals will be awarded as the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles tournaments draw to a close.