16 Jun 2018

The top four names not required to compete in the initial phase of the Men’s Singles event at the 2018 Pan America Cup in Asuncion, Paraguay; on the opening day of play, Friday 15th June, the names of those who would join the illustrious quartet in the main draw was the item on the agenda.

Furthermore, there was little room for error, only players finishing in first positions in each of the four groups advanced; however, if one player progressed, living life on a knife-edge, it was Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

The no.10 seed, the 21 year old from Utuado, located high in the centre of the Caribbean island, beat Feng Yujin of the United States, the no.16 seed, in his opening encounter in five games (7-11, 11-6, 12-10, 19-17, 11-8).

A worthy win, in 2016 Feng Yujin had competed in the Liebherr Men’s World Cup in Saarbrücken and he was a young man in form; in the opening group contest, he had caused a major upset by overcoming Mexico’s Marcos Madrid, the no.6 seed, in seven games (11-9, 8-11, 4, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7). The defeat incurred by Feng Yujin opened the door for Marcos Madrid to gain top place; he needed to beat Brian Afanador in five games or better.

He won but in six games (11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 17-15); thus on games ratio, he missed out. The outcome was first place for Brian Afanador (6:5), followed by Marcos Madrid (7:6) and Feng Yijin (5:7).

Top spot for Brian Afanador against the odds; in the remaining four groups it was as anticipated.

Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes, the no.5 seed, alongside Chile’s Gustavo, Gomez, the no.7 seed and Ecuador’s Alberto Miño, the no.8 seed all emerged unbeaten to secure first places in their respective groups, the performance of note being that of Alberto Miño.

He beat Argentina’s Gaston Alto, the no.9 seed (7-11, 11-4, 8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-5) to seal top spot; one year ago in Costa Rica at the inaugural edition of the tournament, at the quarter-final stage Alberto Miño had lost to Gaston Alto who had proceeded to secure the bronze medal place. In Asuncion, for the 27 year old from Guayaquil, it was sweet revenge.

At the quarter-final stage Gustavo Gomez meets Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the top seed; Horacio Cifuentes faces the host nation’s Marcelo Aguirre, the no.4 seed. In the opposite half of the draw Brian Afanador opposes Kanak Jha of the United States, the no.3 seed; Alberto Miño confronts, Gustavo Tsuboi, the no.2 seed, the defending champion and like Hugo Calderano from Brazil.

The quarter and semi-finals will be played on Saturday 16th June; the final and bronze medal match on Sunday 17th June.

2018 Pan America Cup Brian Afanador

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Day 3 - 2018 ITTF-Pan American Cup