14 Aug 2018

Winner of the Junior Boys’ Singles title at the European Youth Championships staged in 2007 in Bratislava but arguably the potential shown over a decade ago never fully realised, Russia’s Mikhail Paikov was the player to cause the biggest upset on the opening day of play, Tuesday 14th August, in the qualification tournament to gain places in the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open.

In Panagyurishte, against the odds, he secured first place in his Men’s Singles group.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

After accounting for the Czech Republic’s David Reitspies (11-6, 5-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-7), he overcame Japan’s Masaki Yoshida, at no.57 the highest world ranked player in the group, in a full distance seven games encounter, decided by the very minimal two point margin (11-8, 9-11, 13-11, 9-11, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10). Currently Mikhail Paikov is listed at no.302 in the global order.

Success for Mikhail Paikov against the second highest rated player in the qualification tournament, the highest being England’s Liam Pitchford who successfully opened his account with victory over Italy’s Leandro Mutti (11-8, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5), but it does not guarantee a place in the main draw.

A total of 38 groups in the opening phase, first position in group no.27 to group no.38 means a place in preliminary round one; the winners progress to preliminary round two where those finishing in first positions in group no.1 to group no.26 enter the arena. The winners in preliminary round two join the 16 seeds in the main draw.

First place for Mikhail Paikov contrary to predictions; it was the same for Korea Republic’s Baek Hogyun and China’s Ma Te. Baek Hogyun after beating Austria’s Alexander Chen (11-7, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6) accounted for Frenchman, Can Akkuzu, at no.67 the highest rated in the group (8-11, 11-9, 12-10, 13-11, 12-10). Similarly, Ma Te overcame Kim Minhyeok, like Baek Hogyun from Korea Republic (7-11, 11-2, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5), prior to ending the hopes of Sweden’s Pär Gerell (11-4, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5), the top name in the group.

Surprise defeats, there was also a surprise defeat for Nandor Esecki, ranked no.129; he was beaten by colleague, Tamas Lakatos, listed at no.137 (11-8, 5-11, 8-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5, 11-4). Nandor Ecseki now meets China’s Zhao Zihao in the concluding group contest, the winner in the opening engagement when facing Tamas Lakatos (11-9, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5).

Also for one player it was back down to earth; semi-finalist two days ago at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open, Thailand’s Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon was beaten by Italy’s Daniele Pinto (7-11, 11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-5) who, in his very next encounter, experienced defeat at the hands of Austria’s Andreas Levenko (11-7, 11-3, 11-6, 11-9).

Problems for notable names but with the exception of Masaki Yoshida, alongside Liam Pitchford, the most notable names of all enjoyed a successful start to their campaigns. One match played, one match won, England colleague, Paul Drinkhall made a positive start as did Japan’s Yuya Oshima and Masataka Morizono alongside Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju and Belgium’s Cédric Nuytinck.

Play in the qualification tournament concludes on Wednesday 15th August.

World Tour 2018 Seamaster Bulgaria Open Mikhail Paikov

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Day 4 - 2018 Seamaster ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open

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