by Ian Marshall, Editor
Success for Cristian Pletea and somewhat of a landmark win; it is the first time on either the ITTF World Tour or at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament that he has progressed to the penultimate round of a Men’s Singles event; his prior best was earlier this year in Slovenia, when beaten at the quarter-final stage by Japan’s Mizuki Oikawa.
It is the same scenario for qualifiers, Shunsuke Togami, like Mizuki Oikawa from Japan and for China’s Zhao Zihao, a young man who is increasingly making his presence felt in Minsk. Earlier in the day, he emerged the Under 21 Men’s Singles winner.
Neither has ever progressed to the latter stages of a Men’s Singles event at an open international tournament; in Minsk at the quarter-final stage, Shunsuke Togami beat fellow qualifier, Sweden’s Simon Ardvisson (12-14, 11-9, 1-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-2), Zhao Zihao prevented a second Japanese player reaching the penultimate round by ousting Kakeru Sone (11-4, 11-7, 11-3, 11-8).
The only semi-finalist in Minsk to have previously visited the penultimate round in a Men’s Singles event at an open international tournament is Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej, the runner up earlier this year in Slovenia. The no.4 seed at the quarter-final stage, he ousted India’s Harmeet Desai, the no.9 seed (11-7, 11-5, 12-10, 9-11, 11-3). Notably in a world ranking event it was the second time when Lubomir Pistej and Harmeet Desai had met; in 2012 they confronted each other on the ITTF World Tour in Brazil, on that occasion Lubomir Pistej had also prevailed.
At the semi-final stage Shunsuke Togami meets Cristian Pletea, in the opposite half of the draw Lubomir Pistej faces Zhao Zihao.
Play in the penultimate round of the Men’s Singles event is scheduled for the late morning of Sunday 18th November.