14 Nov 2018

Aiming for no less than a tenth final, Japan’s Kohei Sambe overcame what appeared a potentially dangerous opponent in his opening contest in the group stage of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk.

He accounted for China’s Li Haoze (6-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7); a player making his first steps in international waters.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Defeat for Li Haoze but all is not lost; in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event, players finishing in first and second positions in each of the 24 groups advance to join the 16 seeds in a main draw of 64 players.

Success for Kohei Sambe and with the exception of Sweden’s Simon Soderlund and Frenchman Rémi Menand, it was success for the leading names on initial phase duty. Simon Soderlund was forced to withdraw owing to injury, Rémi Menand was beaten by the host nation’s Heorhi Kunats (19-17, 11-7, 11-8).

Otherwise for India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar, Austria’s Thomas Grininger and the Czech Republic’s Stanislav Kucera, alongside Turkey’s Ibrahim Gündüz and Abdullah Yingeler it was a successful start to the day. Similarly, not to be left out, Belgium’s Thibaut Darcis and Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko safely negotiated the first hurdle.

However, lower down the order for the leading names in the respective groups, there were defeats; Chinese players new to the international scene made their presence felt.

Zou Hancheng beat Denmark’s Andras Dilling by the very narrowest of margins (16-14, 11-9, 5-11, 8-11, 13-11); Shen Zhesong recovered from a two games to nil deficit to overcome Russia’s Andrey Semenov (9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7). Meanwhile, somewhat less dramatically Sun Zheng prevailed in opposition to Belgium’s Laurens Devos (11-8, 11-7, 11-9).

Also, for the leading names in the respective groups, there were defeats for Frenchman, Leo de Nodrest, Slovakia’s Adam Brat and Israel’s Mathan Simon as well as for Russia’s Lev Katsman.

Leo de Nodrest was beaten by Slovakia’s Daniel Orac, (13-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7), Adam Brat lost to Russia’s Mikhail Rozhkov (9-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7). Similarly, Mathan Simon was beaten by Japan’s Shogo Tahara (11-6, 11-4, 11-5), Lev Katsman suffered at the hands of Croatia’s Wei Shihao (11-8, 11-8, 11-2).

The second and third series of matches in the group stage of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event will be played later in the evening.

Challenge Series 2018 Belarus Open Laurens Devos Kohei Sambe

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open