16 Nov 2018

Successful earlier in the year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit, the winner in China, runner up in the Czech Republic and a quarter-finalist in Sweden; Japan’s Kakeru Sone, alongside China’s Zhao Zihao emerged the players to attract the attention as the second round of the Men’s Singles event at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk came to a conclusion on the evening of Friday 16th November.

Both players whose journey had started three days ago in the qualification tournament; both ousted seeded adversaries.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Kakeru Sone accounted for the Czech Republic’s Tomas Konecny, the no.13 seed and winner in 2016 on the ITTF World Tour in Bulgaria (5-11, 11-9, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9) to book his third round place; a most creditable performance but was the win recorded by Zhao Zihao even more creditable?

Present earlier this year on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour in Bulgaria and also on duty two years earlier in Sweden but on neither occasion a place secured in the main draw, Zhao Zihao beat a player very much in form. He accounted for Yukiya Uda, like Kakeru Sone from Japan, the no.10 seed but more pertinently the runner up three weeks ago at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Series Belgium Open De Haan. Zhao Zhihao prevailed in six games (11-3, 6-11, 11-7, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8).

Notable performances, it was the same from colleague, Sun Zheng and from Italy’s Leandro Mutti as the second round of the Men’s Singles event came to a close. Both ended the travels of fellow qualifiers; by the very narrowest of margins Leonardo Mutti overcame Poland’s Patrick Zatowka (8-11, 11-4, 7-11, 5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9), the winner the previous day in opposition to Russia’s Kirill Skachkov, the no.2 seed (11-8, 16-14, 11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 11-9). Rather less dramatically Sun Zheng doused the aspirations of Belgium’s Florian Cnudde (12-10, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5).

Defeat for Florian Cnudde, it was the same for his colleague, Florent Lambiet, the no.15 seed, he lost to Frenchman, Antoine Hachard, the no.22 seed (11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-4).

Impressive performances, it was the same from Aliaksandr Khanin, the no.5 seed, he beat Turkey’s Ibrahim Gündüz, the no.20 seed (13-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8); a comprehensive success, for Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej, seeded one place higher, life was far more intense. He needed the full seven games to halt the aspirations of Japan’s Kenji Matsudaira (3-11, 11-3, 11-8, 12-10, 4-11, 7-11, 11-3).

Wins as status suggested, it was the same for India’s Harmeet Desai, the no.9 seed, he ended the progress of Russian qualifier, Alexey Liventsov (11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).

The third round and quarter-finals of the Men’s Singles event will be played on Saturday 17th November.

Challenge Series 2018 Belarus Open Kakeru Sone Zhou Zihao

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open