20 Aug 2019

Follow all the thrills and spills from the first day of qualification action, Tuesday 20th August, in Olomouc as the race for main draw positions at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Czech Open begins:

All Italia!

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

Italia indeed! Leonardo Mutti’s 4-2 victory against Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit could well be classified as one of the surprises of the day. Mutti charged out of the gate and went up 3-0 before Ho was really able to respond, and the Hong Kong player was unable to capitalize on his two-game rally. This one had Mutti’s name all over it: he ejected Ho in just six games (14-12, 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7).

Leonardo Mutti: Italian force at the forefront.
Tregler takes down Matsudaira

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

The host nation scored a big win in the waning of the day as the Czech Republic’s Tomas Tregler defeated Kenta Matsudaira of Japan in seven games (9-11, 6-11, 12-10, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9). It was a superhuman effort from 28-year-old Tregler, who rebounded 2-0 to surprise the Japanese star, electrifying host nation supporters.

Tomas Tregler reached for victory against Kenta Matsudaira — and got it.
A friendly victory for Pletea

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

For Romania’s Cristian Pletea, also a 2018 Youth Olympian, there was a casual victory against the reigning Youth Olympic bronze medalist, Kanak Jha of the USA despite a three-game surge by Jha mid-match (11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 12-10). Pletea and Jha, who both train in Germany, played things out in a friendly way.

“We are very close friends and we sometimes practice against each other in Germany [where we both train],” Pletea commented. “It was a pleasure for me to play against him. The main goal is to enjoy the game and feel pleasure from it. Serve didn’t matter today — we played each rally at least ten points. It is quite hot so sometimes I felt I didn’t have air. It was really hard — I was 7-9 down but I stayed calm and it helped me a lot.”

A look into the future

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

A favorable outcome for Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko leads off the youth report from Olomouc. One of several contenders playing here who distinguished themselves at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires a year ago, Sidorenko shone in his match against no less a player than Sweden’s Jon Persson, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to account for Persson 4-3 (7-11, 11-4, 8-11, 6-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-6).

Elsewhere, Truls Moregard, also a 2018 Youth Olympian, ejected India’s Anthony Amalraj 4-2 (11-7, 6-11, 12-14, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9).  It was bad news for Bastien Rembert of France, who wasn’t able to cope with Japan’s Yukiya Uda, losing in straight games (11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9).

Vladimir Sidorenko leading the Youth Olympic resurgence.
The Slovankian surprise

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

He won the match, but Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej couldn’t have been more complimentary of opponent Tomas Polansky of the Czech Republic following a 4-2 win (6-11, 11-4, 2-11, 11-5, 11-6, 13-11) that even Pistej’s coach felt a little uncertain he was capable of.

“Tomas has been in really good form recently. He beat Hugo Calderano in the last match, so he plays really well. He totally dominated in the first game and I thought ‘the whole match will be like this.’ I’m at the start of my preparation for the season, so I’m not in my best form. My coach didn’t have big expectations, and I’m glad I showed him that I’m also able to win in this kind of situation.

It was important for me to play my type of game. I was focused on serving and receiving well. At the start of the match, I received long balls and it wasn’t good. I slightly changed my tactics and it was the decisive moment of the match.”

Pistej’s countryman, 2016 Olympian Wang Yang, won his match against Japan’s Yuki Matsuyama in rather more conventional style: straight games (11-9 11-6, 11-8, 11-7).

That winning feeling: Lubomir Pistej of Slovakia.
Roller coasters  for Devos and Allegro

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

Up 3-0 midway through his match against Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin, Robin Devos learned once again that it ain’t over until it’s really over. Feng, one of the world’s top juniors last year, fought hard and successfully turned up the heat on the talented Belgian, drawing even at 3-3 before Devos put things away with an 11-7 seventh game and what must have been a large sigh of relief (11-7, 11-8, 11-3, 6-11, 8-11, 10-12, 11-7).

Devos’s countryman Martin Allegro had a similar time with Romania’s Rares Sipos, with the same result: a 4-3 win where both players scored into the double digits three times. Allegro sealed the win with a 16-14 seventh game to make it 4-3 in his favor (11-7, 7-11, 14-16, 11-5, 9-11, 13-11, 16-14). Whew!

Robin Devos and the art of the hard-fought victory.
Grit and relief as Mengel, Steger advance

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

The Germans will be happy — both Steffen Mengel and Bastian Steger are through to the next round after ejecting Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic and Denmark’s Anders Lind, respectively. Of the two, Mengel had the easier time, dropping the first set 9-11 to Lind but making quick work of him during the next four games to make it 4-1 (9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-9, 11-2).

Karakasevic made things more difficult for Steger, going on a three-game run to lead 3-2 before Steger pulled things back, outlasting Karakasevic 4-3 (11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 6-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-8). Here’s what Steger had to say afterward:

“It was a weird match. I was leading 2:0 quite easily and then everything changed and I was down 2:3 down also easily. He was also in the lead in the sixth game but I somehow managed to win the sixth set and also the whole match. It was a tough match as always against him. There are no players like him, so you can’t practice against this type of style. He often does very special things that nobody else does.”

No luck for Noshad Alamiyan

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

Oh-so-close for Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan, whose quest for main draw honors was ended by Japan’s Yuma Tsuboi 11-7 in the seventh game of their 4-3 match (11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-7). The Asian Games bronze medalist in men’s singles last year, Alamiyan has a most interesting trajectory in the sport. Like Daniel Habesohn, Alamiyan too announced himself by beating Kenta Matsudaira, only he did it back in 2008 at the ITTF World Junior Championships — while competing coachless at the time.

Mr. Consistency makes his point

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

It was Austria’s Daniel Habesohn over Liao Cheng-Ting in an intriguing men’s singles match that pitted the experienced Viennese player, a 2016 Olympian, against the up-and-comer billed as the future of table tennis from Chinese Taipei. Experience bested youth 4-2 (11-9, 11-2, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4). “Mr. Consistency” Habesohn is known for pulling an upset here and there, as he did when he bested Kenta Matsudaira at the 2017 World Championships. Here’s his smoothest move:

Journey ends early for Fu Yu

Women’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

One of the big contenders for qualification has succumbed to an early exit in Olomouc with Portugal’s Fu Yu losing out to Chinese opponent Qian Tianyi by a convincing 4-1 margin (9-11, 11-2, 11-3, 11-3, 11-9).

Elsewhere, fresh from her 2019 Pan American Games success but Melanie Diaz’s hopes of reaching the main draw at the OMEGA Sports and Health Center have been dashed following the Puerto Rican’s six games defeat to Japan’s Mitsuho Kimura (12-10, 8-11, 11-2, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8).

Revenge for Czech hero

Women’s Singles: Preliminary Round One

Exiting to Zhang Qiang at last week’s ITTF World Tour event in Panagyurishte but in Olomouc Dana Cechova enjoyed her revenge with the Czech player beating her Chinese counterpart across six games (12-10, 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 5-11, 11-1).

“Amazing, perfect, wow! It is nice revenge for last week. I knew what I should expect from her thanks to the last match. Last week I lost 0-4 but I felt it is not so big difference between us. I knew I have to play without my own mistakes and I managed to do it. I started to panic a little bit because I felt it is not over yet. Luckily my coach was able to calm me down. The final rally was awesome. It would be fine to always finish matches like this!” Dana Cechova

Sweet revenge for Dana Cechova (Photo: Lukas Kabon)
Shin’s in!

Women’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

Korea Republic’s Shin Yubin was in action against Poland’s Anna Wegrzyn at the Omega Sport center, as she glided to victory in straight games (13-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-3).

Wegrzyn had a decent start in the match, stretching it to the 11-11 point, but after that the Korean never relinquished control. There was also a Russian domestic played out, with Polina Mikhilova coming out on top versus Daria Shadrina (12-10, 11-2, 11-8, 11-9).

Debora cannot stop Fan

Women’s Singles: Preliminary Round Two

Debora Vivarelli had a tough afternoon as she was caught in a storming session with China’s Fan Siqi. The Italian could not stop Fan from a thunderous straight game victory in the second round of qualifying (11-6, 11-8, 11-4, 11-4).

It was a very powerful display from the Chinese international, maintaining an absolute grip on the match throughout. Her compatriot Feng Yalan had a similar showing against France’s Laura Gasnier, needing no more than four games to wrap up the win (11-6, 11-9, 11-3, 11-5).

China’s Fan Siqi was relentless.
China enters the party

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round One

Ma Te and Zhao Zihao both won their opening encounters in convincing fashion, playing at the Omega Sport Center in Olomouc.

Ma was up against Serbia’s Dimitrije Levajac, who could not deal with the in-form Chinese’s forehands and services (11-7, 11-9, 11-9, 11-2). Zhao meanwhile defeated Ukraine’s Viktor Yefimov by playing on the counter, and keeping the rallies very short (11-6, 12-10, 11-9, 11-5).

Tomas lifts the mood

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round One

Tomas Konecny lifted the spirits of the home crowd as he recorded a straight games win over Russian Anton Kotov (11-4, 11-7, 11-4, 11-9).

It was a commanding display from Konecny, who was certainly roused by his supporters. Frenchman Enzo Angles kept up the European mood by winning against Uzbekistan’s Elmurod Kholikov 4-0 (11-3, 11-4, 11-7, 11-4).

The crowd rose for Tomas Konecny (Photo: Chris Petkov)
Tough start for home favorites

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round One

Czech Republic’s Frantisek Onderka could not keep the host nation fans happy as he lost out to Belarus’ Vadim Yarashenka (11-5, 11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 14-12).

Despite pushing Yarashenka back into repeated backhands, Onderka had little luck in getting the final shot in. It was patient play from the Belarusian, who needed no more than four games to go through. On Table 5, Austria’s David Serdaroglu was in particularly good spirits after defeating Romanian Alin Spelbus by a 4-2 deficit.

“It was really intensive game, we played a lot of long rallies. Luckily, as long as the match went further, I was playing better and better, I was able to turn the match to my side. Now, I’m ready to fight in the next match! I really like long rallies, I stayed focused and it helped me a lot. I’m glad my summer training went well. I’ll go step by step and hopefully I can win another game.” David Serdaroglu

Comeback steals the show

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round One

Take a bow Rares Sipos! Down 1-3 on the scoreboard the Romanian fought his way back to stun 2018 World Junior Champion Xu Haidong 4-3 in a fantastic contest (11-13, 6-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6).

Mengel and Rolland through

Men’s Singles: Preliminary Round One

European fans will be delighted to see the incoming results on the first day here in Czech Republic, as France’s Jules Rolland and German Steffen Mengel both recorded first round victories.

Rolland needed five games to see off Samuel Kaluzny from Slovakia (11-9, 3-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-1). His European compatriot Mengel had a tougher task with Swiss Cedric Tschanz giving the German a hard time, stretching the match to six games (11-2, 6-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-3, 11-1).

Jules Rolland set for more qualification action (Photo: Alvaro Diaz)
India off the mark

Women’s Singles: Preliminary Round One

Sutirtha Mukherjee had a good start to the week in Olomouc as she saw off the challenge of host nation’s Anna Matejovska 4-2 (11-7, 4-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-4).

The Indian took the first game, but had to dig deep as Matejovska hit back with strong returns on the volley. Mukherjee eventually found her feet and closed out the game in six. Meanwhile, Matejovska’s compatriot Tamara Tomanova fared better as she beat Slovakian Eva Jurkova by the same score-line (11-2, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 12-14, 11-2).

So who’s seeded?

Check out who gets the nod ahead of the main stage event in two days, right here:

Action commences!

Here’s the schedule for day one of the qualification tournament in Olomouc:

World Tour 2019 Czech Open 2019 Czech Open

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Day 4 - 2019 ITTF World Tour Czech Open

Match Highlights