by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It is the battle for third place that is intriguing; as to who will join the top two teams in the main draw.
Represented by Xu Xin, Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan, China recorded a three-nil win against Portugal, who selected Diogo Carvalho, João Geraldo and Tiago Apolonia. A seemingly comfortable victory but there was a scare for the tournament favourites.
Fan Zhendong trailed João Geraldo by two games to one and was down 8-10 in the fourth; he saved both match points, then won the next two, before emerging successful in the fifth (8-11, 10-12, 11-8, 12-10, 11-6).
A three-nil success for China; it was the same for Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, Eric Jouti and Gustavo Tsuboi in opposition to DPR Korea’s Pak Sin Hyok, Choe Il and Kang Wi Hun.
However, the most pertinent result in the group was the three-one win recorded by the Czech Republic trio of Lubomir Jancarik, Pavel Sirucek and Tomas Konency in opposition to Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko, Kirill Skachkov and Vildan Gadien. Man of the moment was Lubomir Jancarik who beat both Kirill Skachkov (10-12, 2-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5) and Vladimir Sidorenko (11-8, 11-6,. 11-9).
The significance of the result is that the Czech Republic and Russia are level in third place in the group behind China and Brazil; in the concluding fixtures they meet. In the two remaining contests it is China versus DPR Korea and Brazil in opposition to Russia.
Standings (after four matches): China 8pts, Brazil 7pts, Portugal 6pts, Czech Republic 6pts, Russia 5pts, DPR Korea 4pts (one point is awarded for presence, one for a win).