by Simon Daish
Second seed eliminated at first hurdle
Surely the biggest scalp of the day came at the foot of the Men’s Singles tournament as second seed Kirill Skachkov departed – the Russian fought back from three games down with back-to-back game wins but couldn’t complete the comeback as Polish qualifier Patryk Zatowka progressed to the Round of 32 in his place (11-8, 16-14, 11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 11-9).
The third and fourth seeded contestants also came close to experiencing opening day upsets as Iran’s Nima Alamian and the Slovak Republic’s Lubomir Pistej required the full match distance to negotiate Gerrit Engemann (11-7, 6-11, 10-12, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7) and Koyo Kanamitsu (5-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-3, 11-4, 9-11, 11-9) respectively.
Reasons to be cheerful for hosts
There was positive news for the host nation as both Belarusians involved in Men’s Singles action claimed opening round victories: Aliaksandr Khanin, seeded fifth, saw off China’s Shen Zhesong by a resounding 4-0 score-line (11-8, 13-11, 11-9, 12-10) while no.14 seed Pavel Platonov came out on top against Russia’s Arseniy Gusev (11-6, 11-9, 14-16, 14-16, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7).
Oleksandr Didukh of Ukraine prevailed by the narrowest of margins in a dramatic seven games encounter against no.12 seed Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon (11-4, 8-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3, 13-15, 11-9) and two qualifiers from China are also through with Sun Zheng and Zhao Zihao emerging successful on Day One.
Qualifiers show their class
Luxembourg’s Sarah De Nutte was the highest seeded player to suffer an opening round exit in the Women’s Singles draw. Seeded 13th, De Nutte succumbed to a straight games defeat at the hands of Russia’s Elena Kuzmina (11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 12-10), a player who had only reserved her spot in the main event one day prior following a successful outing in the qualification tournament.
Dana Cechova, no.16, and Giorgia Piccolin, no.17, also failed to negotiate the Round of 64 with the Czech and Italian competitors losing out to Maria Dolgikh (12-10, 11-13, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6) and Lee Yeongeun (13-15, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8) while other seeded names to bid their farewells include: Laura Gasnier, Karin Adamkova and Lee Eunhye.
The top two seeds, Canada’s Zhang Mo and Saki Shibata of Japan have made perfect starts to their campaigns in Minsk while Daria Trigolos continues to fly the flag for the hosts following an impressive display from the no.20 seed against Russian qualifier Maria Malanina (11-9, 11-2, 11-7, 11-7).