13 Nov 2019

Aspirations for places in the end of year Grand Finals, to be staged in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou in December, when play concluded on the opening day of qualification, Tuesday 11th November, at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Austrian Open, in the men’s singles event, the aspirations of the Korea Republic were very much alive.

Both Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu made most impressive starts to their campaigns; both accounted for host nation adversaries.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Jeoung Youngsik, named at no.14 (354 points) on the men’s singles standings, beat David Serdaroglu (11-4, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8); Lee Sangsu listed at no.17 (271 points), just below the boderline and may well need a quarter-final place if he is to qualify for the Finals, made a fine start to his campaign by ousting Alexander Chen 11-5, 5-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-4).

The door still open but not for China’s Sun Wen, named at no.20 (233 points); a repeat of his performance in Japan earlier this year when he reached the semi-finals and there was a slight chance of place in the Zhengzhou. The door was closed in the opening preliminary round by Frenchman, Abdel-Kader Salfou (5-11, 5-11, 11-7, 15-13, 11-4, 12-10).

Success for Abdel-Kader Salifou but the euphoria was short-lived; in the next round he was beaten by Egypt’s Omar Assar (8-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 12-10).

Omar Assar beat Abdel-Kader Salifou, after the Frenchman had ousted Sun Wen  (Photo: Rémy Gros)
Slender hopes

Prospects over for Sun Wen, for Frenchman Simon Gauzy no.22 (187 points) and Liam Pitchford no.23 (181 points), both needing semi-final finishes and hoping other results go their way to qualify for the Grand Finals, the slender hopes remain alive.

Both made successful starts to their quests. In the second preliminary round, Simon Gauzy accounted for Serbia’s Zsolt Peto (11-8, 11-3, 11-8, 11-8); Liam Pitchford overcame Austria’s Andreas Levenko (12-10, 11-3, 11-5, 11-7).

Somewhat similarly in the women’s singles event, the options for China’s Gu Yuting and Saki Shibata remain alive but as with Simon Gauzy and Liam Pitchford they will need penultimate round finishes and quite possibly help from others. Gu Yuting who stands at no.17 (199 points) commenced her efforts by beating Austria’s Yui Hamamoto (11-4, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4), Saki Shibata at no.19 (179 points) halted the progress of Romania’s Daniela Monteiro-Dodean (11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-6).

Successful start for Saki Shibata but long odds to qualify for Zhengzhou (Photo: Rémy Gros)
Out of their hands

The future in some doubt, major upsets will be needed if Gu Yuting and Saki Shibata are to reserve Grand Finals places; in the mixed doubles, where just one pair from a national association may qualify, for the French duo of Tristan Flore and Laura Gasnier, the future is out of their hands.

In the opening preliminary round, in a thrilling contest decided by the narrowest of margins, they were beaten by Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An and Chen Szu-Yu (12-10, 8-11, 10-12, 14-12, 13-11). Prior to the start of play in Linz, alongside Hungary’s Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel, of those pairs eligible for a Grand Finals place, they were listed at no.7 (233 points); the very last spot for qualification.

Notably, Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel recorded an opening round preliminary round win against Spain’s Jesus Cantero and Ana Garcia (11-6, 11-5, 11-9); they now meet Aliaksandr Khanin and Daria Trigolos in the concluding preliminary round. Win that match and they can add a further 19 points to their tally.

For Laura Gasnier in partnership with Tristan Flore, she must wait and hope (Photo: Rémy Gros)
Directly through to main draw

Significantly, one place below the cut-off line is the pairing of Austria’s Stefan Fegerl and Sofia Polcanova; they stand at no.9 (201 points); they are the no.8 seeds in Linz and are thus directly through to the main draw. Win their opening match and they can add 38 points to their collection. At 239 points they would be ahead of Tristan Flore and Laura Gasnier.

Also with a glimmer of hope but having to reach the final to have any chance of qualifying for the Zhengzhou; in the opening preliminary round Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs beat Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and Dora Madarasz (3-11, 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9). Presently they occupy the no.10 spot (152 points); they now face Belgium’s Cédric Nuytink and Lisa Lung.

Partnering Sofia Polcanova, the aim for Stefan Fegerl is a quarter-final place (Photo: Rémy Gros)
World Tour 2019 Austrian Open Jeoung Youngsik Lee Sangu

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Day 4 - 2019 ITTF World Tour Austrian Open