by Ian Marshall, Editor
Listed at no.75 on the current men’s world rankings, only three lower rated players progressed to the main draw; one such name was that of China’s Xu Chenhao, presently standing at no.142 in the global order. Runner up at the 2013 ITTF World Tour Japan Open, I suggest he might be rather higher than his status suggests, if subjected to more international play.
The other two names to raise the eyebrows were Croatia’s Frane Kojic, listed at no.98 and India’s Amalraj Anthony at no.105. Thus it was a notable success for the player who quite by chance had found himself partnering Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu at the 2018 ITTF World Tour Kaisa China Open and had recorded a sensational semi-final win against China’s Ma Long and Xu Xin, before last year being runners up at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest.
In doubles, very much Alvaro Robles is the architect, left handed, supple wrists, excellent over the table, it is that skill, just like fellow left handers Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, Japan’s Jun Mizutani or from a previous era, China’s Chen Qi that makes him so effect for a right handed partner who exerts power.
It also makes Alvaro Robles most effective when alone; his high level of skill when returning service was a key factor in his success as he beat higher rated players to reserve his main draw place.
On the second day of qualification, he accounted for Hungary’s Bence Majoros (8-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-3) followed by success in opposition to India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (11-9, 6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4).
Notably on the current men’s world rankings, Bence Majoros is listed at no.70, having the previous month been at no.59; Sathiyan Gnanasekaran is at no.30.
On the 2019 ITTF World Tour in Korea Republic, he reached the second round losing to China’s Fan Zhendong; just one slight problem, he cannot meet the player he beat in the opening round in Busan, he has already beaten him, he accounted for Sathiyan Gnanasekaran!
In Doha, the recently crowned English champion for the sixth time awaits, Liam Pitchford is the first round opponent.