16 Aug 2018

Three European champions, two past winners and one incumbent holder of the title, entered the arena as play commenced in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open in Panagyurishte.

It was for all three success but for the most successful of the trio, the three times champion, it was hard fought success and one that spoilt a celebration.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.10 seed, beat Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju in seven games (11-4, 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7) and thus deprived the young man of what would have been a memorable birthday present.

On Friday 17th August, Lin Yun-Ju will celebrate his 17th birthday, now with a little poetic licence and time difference with Chinese Taipei taken into consideration, for his family back home it would just about be his birthday.

“I didn’t feel like I was playing against a really young player, I think he has a solid game and good serve, he’s an intelligent player. It was very difficult. I think that he had problems with my serve in the beginning so we didn’t have many rallies but in the sixth game we both got a bit of feeling and then the game started to go better. The beginning of the seventh game was very important, I was able to get a 5-3 lead and maintain it. I’m very happy that I won. It’s always difficult to play the first round against somebody who has already played some matches in the venue and got used to the conditions. I think that I played in this place a long, long time ago, it was nice to see that the crowd was so supportive!” Vladimir Samsonov

Maybe with age the memory is failing 42 year old Vladimir Samsonov, the first ever event to be held in the stadium was the 2015 ITTF World Tour Bulgaria Open!

Success for Vladimir Samsonov, there was also success for Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson, the reigning European champion; similarly, he faced an aspiring young player, Aliaksandr Khanin, like Vladimir Samsonov from Belarus. Impressively the fast attacking skills of Emmanuel Lebesson prevailed in five games (11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 12-10, 11-2).

Notable wins, earlier for the twice European champion it had been the same against an adversary who was no stranger; Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the top seed, accounted for England’s Paul Drinkhall (11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8).

“I’m very satisfied with my performance; Paul is a very tough player for me to play against. We have played quite a lot against each other, so we know each other very well. Paul risked a lot, which made it difficult to read his game play today. I tried, however, just to focus on my own game and minimize the number of mistakes. I think that was the key to success today.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov

Wins as seeding predicted, as play progressed in the top half of the Men’s Singles draw. It was the same for Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and Kenta Matsudaira; Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.4 seed, beat Korea Republic’s Baek Hogyun (11-9, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7), Kenta Matsudaira, the no.7 seed, overcame Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic (11-4, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8).

Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan overcame Darko Jorgic, like Bojan Tokic from Slovenia (5-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4) but for colleague, Liao Cheng-Ting, the no.15 seed, there was defeat, he was beaten by China’s Zheng Peifeng (11-9, 11-7, 11-8, 11-3) in what was to prove the only upset in the top half of the opening round Men’s Singles draw.

The lower half will be completed later in the day.

World Tour 2018 Seamaster Bulgaria Open Dimitrij Ovtcharov Vladimir Samsonov Lin Yun -Ju Emmanuel Lebesson

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Day 4 - 2018 Seamaster ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open

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