14 Nov 2018

A main draw place the immediate goal, the leading names in the Men’s Singles qualification tournament at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk, all completed their group stage matches unbeaten and thus advanced to the competition proper.

Russia’s Alexander Shibaev and Alexey Liventsov, alongside Sweden Elias Ranefur and India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar all emerged successful in their concluding initial phase contests, a competition where first place in group no.1 to group no.21 ensured a direct passage to the main event.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Alexander Shibaev beat Poland’s Kamil Nalepa (8-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 16-14, 11-4), rather more comfortably, Alexey Liventsov accounted for Kazakhstan’s Betulan Zhamal (11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4). Likewise, Elias Ranefur overcame Ukraine’s Ihor Zavadskyi (11-8, 11-7, 11-2, 6-11, 11-6), Manav Vikash Thakkar ended the hopes of the Czech Republic’s Patrik Klos (11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-2).

However, there were surprise first places among the leading groups; in the majority teenagers beating the highest rated player to secure pole position. The odd man out was Konstantinos Angelakis of Greece, at 21 year of age very much the senior member of the group. He accounted Iran’s Miad Lotijanabadi in four games (11-7, 11-7, 11-6, 12-10).

Otherwise it was younger brethren who were to the fore; Poland’s Maciej Kubik and Japan’s Kakeru Sone, both only 15 years old, upset the order of merit as did Russia’s 16 year old Maksim Grebnev and Belgium’s 19 years of age Florian Cnudde.

Maciej Kubik, on duty for Europe at the recent ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Tottori, accounted for the Czech Republic’s David Reitspies (11-9, 11-7, 11-9, 14-12); Kakeru Sone overcame Kazakhstan’s Denis Zholudov (11-4, 11-5, 10-12, 11-9, 11-3). Meanwhile, not to be upstaged, Florian Cnudde ended the hopes of Austria’s David Serdaroglu (11-5, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7).

Main draw places and there was one more but in very different circumstances. On the opening day of play, Ukraine’s Andrii Grebeniuk had beaten Russia’s Artem Dvoynikov in five games (12-10, 11-7, 12-10, 5-11, 11-7) but had then lost to Frenchman, Mehdi Bouloussa, the highest rated player in the group in six games (11-8, 4-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8, 12-10).

On the second day of play in the concluding group stage contest, Andrii Grebeniuk sat and watched as Artem Dvoynikov did him a favour; he beat Mehdi Boulossa in six games (11-8, 4-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8, 12-10). Thus games ratio was needed to determine the outcome; Andrii Grebeniuk (6:5) finished in first place ahead of Mehdi Bouloussa (6:6) and Artem Dvoynikov (5:6).

Play in the main draw commences on Thursday 15th November.

Challenge Series 2018 Belarus Open Kakeru Sone Maksim Grebnev Florian Cnudde Maciej Kubik

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open