23 Mar 2019

A familiar face on the ITTF World Junior Circuit but yet to make his presence felt, Nikola Mihailovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the highest ranked player on duty in the qualification stage of the junior boys’ singles event at the 2019 Italian Junior and Cadet Open in Lignano, duly ended the opening day of play, Wednesday 20th March, unbeaten and thus in first place in his group.

However, the top spot was not without some nervous moments and there was no shortage of surprise names that booked first places.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

The first match can often prove the most difficult and so it proved for Nikola Mihailovic; he had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to beat Serbia’s Jovan Jockov (5-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-4), before rather more comfortably accounting for Romania’s Daniel Moldovan (11-4, 11-8, 13-11) to reserve top spot.

Jovan Jockov concluded the group by overcoming Daniel Moldovan (11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6) to secure second place and thus progressed to the main draw.

Top spot for Nikola Mihailovic, for the next name in the order of merit it was second position; Tunisia’s Aboubaker Bourass experienced defeat at the hands of Hungary’s Akos Kishegyi (11-9, 11-7, 11-9), the 17 year old Hungarian duly remaining unbeaten to secure his main draw berth.

Similarly, for Belgium’s Nicolas Degros, the fourth highest rated on duty behind Switzerland’s Elias Hardmeier who duly remained unbeaten, it was the same scenario. He lost to Frenchman, Alexis Lebrun in what must be the closest deciding game of the year (6-11, 11-9, 10-12, 8-11, 18-16); like Akos Kishegyi, Alexis Lebrun ended the day without a defeat against his name.

Radu Andrei Miron secured first place in his group against expectations (Photo: Ion Nechita)


First place contrary to expectations, it was the same lower down the order for Romania’s Radu Andrei Miron, Portugal’s José Magalhaes and Russia’s Damir Akhmetsatin as it was for Switzerland’s Mauro Scharrer, Italy’s Marco Cappuccio and Hannes Hoerman. Also, not to be left out, China’s Gao Yang defied expectations to reserve first position.

Unexpected first places but note the name of one player who gained first place as expected; also from China, it was pole position for Zeng Beixun, the winner some six months ago in Serbia. Could he prove the most fierce rival for his colleague Xiang Peng, the top seed?

Notably in the junior boys’ doubles Zeng Beixun made his presence felt; partnering Gao Yang, the duo beat Russia’s Maksim Grebnev and Lev Katsman, the top seeds and silver medallists at the 2018 World Junior Championships (10-12, 11-8, 13-11, 11-4), to reserve their place in the final.

In the gold medal contest they meet compatriots Huang Youzheng and Xiang Peng.

Both the junior boys’ singles and junior boys’ doubles events will be played to a conclusion on Thursday 21st March.

World Junior Circuit 2019 Italian Junior & Cadet Open Nicola Mihailovic

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Day 5 - 2019 ITTF Italy Junior & Cadet Open