by Ian Marshall, Editor
After, in the group phase losing to Russia’s Vildan Gadiev in seven games (12-14, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8), Anders Lind beat Poland’s Patryk Zatowka in four straight games (11-7, 17-15, 11-8, 11-8) to reserve his place in the main draw.
A challenge, he responded, he recorded what must surely rank as the best win of his career. He accounted for Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the no.7 seed, in a seven games thriller (11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 12-14, 4-11, 11-7, 13-11).
Success against the odds, as play progressed in the top half of the draw; it was the same for Belgium’s Martin Allegro, Frenchman Can Akkuzu and Poland’s Marek Badowski, as it was for Portugal’s João Geraldo.
All players who had been required to qualify, Martin Allegro beat Croatia’s Andrej Gacina, the no.16 seed (11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5), Marek Badowski accounted for Russia’s Kirill Skachkov, the no.23 seed (11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7). Likewise, Can Akkuzu overcame Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej, the no.26 seed (11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 6-11, 13-11), João Geraldo ended any ambitions harboured by Cédric Nuytinck, the no.29 seed and like Martin Allegro from Belgium (13-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6).
Surprise outcomes but for the top seed, Germany’s Timo Boll, who in August had been forced to withdraw from the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Czech Open through injury, it was a successful return to the tournament scene. He accounted for Switzerland’s Lionel Weber in five games (11-7, 6-11, 13-11, 11-6).
“I was not expecting a lot from myself. It is the first time I have played against Weber, so it was difficult for me. I struggled with my counter attacking game at the beginning and I was not very happy with my movement. I hope it will improve as the Championship progresses, one step at the time.” Timo Boll
Success for Timo Boll and there was also success England’s Liam Pitchford, the player who in August had enjoyed quite the opposite fortunes of Timo Boll; the win in Bulgaria in opposition to China’s Ma Long being the icing on the cake. In the opening round in Alicante, he beat Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 11-6).
“I controlled the match from the beginning and it gave me confidence. I was good with receiving service; that gave me a big advantage. Nandor had to change his services; I did not respond well on the changing of the rhythm at first. In sixth game I improved my service to regain control.” Liam Pitchford
First round wins for Timo Boll and Liam Pitchford, most notably it was the same for Frenchman, Simon Gauzy and Timo Boll’s colleague, Patrick Franziska. Simon Gauzy, the no.3 seed, beat Ukraine’s Pavel Platonov (11-7, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8); Patrick Franziska, the no.5 seed, prevailed in opposition to Serbia’s Zsolt Peto (11-4, 14-16, 11-9, 8-11, 11-1, 11-7).
The second round of the Men’s Singles event will be played in entirety on Friday 21st February.