28 Mar 2018

He came so close, so very close; in 2006 he was the runner up in the Men’s Singles event on the ITTF World Tour in the Chilean capital city of Santiago.

It is the only occasion that Austria’s Robert Gardos, one of the most faithful and hard-working players you could ever wish to meet, has reached such a final. Now another opportunity arises; he is the no.2 seed at the forthcoming 2018 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open. Play commences in Guadalajara on Friday 30th March, being preceded by a two day qualification event.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

The performance in Santiago, now approaching 12 years ago was one of the best of his career.

At the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event, he beat colleague Chen Weixing (8-11, 11-4, 11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7), the player with whom later in the tournament he was to win the Men’s Doubles title beating the combination of Hungary’s Ferenc Paszy and Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic in the final (11-8, 11-8, 11-5, 14-12). It is score-line which in the modern era may look unusual but in those days, the Men’s Doubles, as in the Men’s Singles, was best of seven games.

Success against Chen Weixing, Robert Gardos accounted for Portugal’s João Monteiro (11-4, 11-3, 14-12, 9-11, 11-7), before by the very narrowest of decisions, he lost to the most successful ITTF World Tour competitor of all time. He was beaten by Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus (9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 12-10).

An elusive title, conversely, for Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit, the top seed in Guadalajara, the first time he appeared on the ITTF World Tour, he won. He emerged successful in the Men’s Singles event in 2014 in the Philippines; he beat Singapore’s Zhan Jian in the final to claim the top prize.

In Guadalajara, Ho Kwan Kit leads a strong Hong Kong challenge; Lam Siu Hang is the no.3 seed, Ng Pak Nam in the no.5 seed. Also there are other aspiring young players high on the list; Korea’s Cho Seungmin is the no.4 seed, Japan’s Kazuhiro Chan, the no.7 seed and Kanak Jha, the no.8 seed.

All are hungry for success but could the strongest challenge for Ho Kwan Kit and Robert Gardos come from two players who have won when the Challenge tournaments were part of the ITTF World Tour.

Frenchman Abdel-Kader Salifou is the no.6 seed, in 2013 he won in Croatia, Egypt, and Morocco; Iran’s Nima Alamian is the no.9 seed, in 2015 he emerged successful in Belgium.

Equally, the name of Nima Alamian is prominent in the Men’s Doubles event, he partners Miad Lotfijanabadi; they are the no.4 seeds. Lam Siu Hang and Ng Pak Nam occupy the top seeded position; next on the list is the combination comprising Aliaksandr Khanin and Pavel Platonov of Belarus followed by the Argentine pairing of Horacio Cifuntes and Nicolas Galvanoo.

Meanwhile, Cho Seungmin is the top seed in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event; Aliaksandr Khanin, Japan’s Yuki Matsuyama and Germany’s Nils Hohmeier complete the top four names.

Including qualification and those who receive a direct entry to the main draw, there are 118 players named in the Men’s Doubles event; overall there are 32 Men’s Doubles pairs and 58 players listed in the Under 21 Men’s Doubles competition.

Challenge Series Robert Gardos

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