23 Oct 2018

Winner earlier in the year in Nairobi at the ITTF Africa Cup, Egypt’s Omar Assar is the Men’s Singles top seed at the forthcoming 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgium Open; a two day qualification tournament commences matters in De Haan on Tuesday 23rd October, followed by the main event on Thursday 25th October.

In the heights of the Kenyan capital city, some 5,450 feet about sea level, he adjusted to the conditions; now down to sea level in the West Flanders coastal village, can he do the same?

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Amongst the leading names, he is the player with the greatest pedigree of success; on the ITTF World Tour he won in Nigeria in both 2014 and 2015 and when the Challenge Series stood alone in 2017; for his major rivals, the task is to move to the next level.

Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko is the next name in the order of merit followed by Germany’s Benedikt Duda, Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting and Korea Republic’s Cho Seungmin.

All have reached the later stages at open international tournaments this year, the most successful being Cho Seungmin; he progressed to the final of the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Hang Seng Hong Kong Open in late May, losing to Japan’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura. In addition in Spain, he won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title, before later reaching the Men’s Singles semi-finals, the round that has been the best finish this year for the other prominent names.

Competing in ITTF Challenge Series tournaments, Kirill Gerassimenko advanced to the penultimate round in Thailand, as did Benedikt Duda in Croatia and Liao Cheng-Ting in Slovenia.

Success in Slovenia and notably this year there has been success for a Slovenian; Darko Jorgic, the no.7 seed in De Haan, won the Men’s Singles title in June at the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona. He is one place behind Russia’s Kirill Skachkov and one ahead of the host nation’s Cédric Nuytinck. Neither has yet made an indelible mark on the international scene this year, the claim to fame for Cédric Nuytinck being that he was a member of the team that won India’s Ultimate League.

However, home crowd support, it may just be the boost he needs but could the Men’s Doubles be the best chance for Belgium? Winners on the ITTF World Tour in the Philippines in 2015, Robin Devos and Cédric Nuytinck are the top seeds.

Challenge Series 2018 Belgium Open Omar Assar

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Day 3 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgium Open

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