by Ian Marshall
Success but to some extent all three reservations raised the eyebrows. The no.30 seed, Lubomir Jancarik accounted for Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the no.12 seed, in four straight games (11-5, 14-12, 11-9, 11-6); not only was the 33 year old from the Czech Republic the lower-rated player, on their one previous international meeting he had experienced defeat.
Furthermore, that defeat was in Doha; in the opening round of the men’s singles event at the 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, Kou Lei had prevailed in six games (6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 0-11, 11-6).
Defeat contrary to statistics, for Bence Majoros and Wang Yang, it was as seeding advised but not necessarily as past performances predicted.
The no.15 seed, Bence Majoros overcame Belgium’s Florent Lambiet, the no.32 seed (11-6, 11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8), Wang Yang, the no.6 seed, halted the aspirations of Panagiotis Gionis of Greece, the no.10 seed (3-11, 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7).
Notably, in four meetings in world ranking events, commencing with the 2010 Hungarian Cadet Open in Tata, it was only the second time Bence Majoros had beaten Florent Lambiet; pertinently it was their most recent, the opening round of the men’s singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Belgium Open in de Haan.
On that occasion Bence Majoros prevailed in straight games (12-10, 11-6, 11-8, 12-10).
A repeat, for Panagiotis Gionis it was a reversal of fortunes. On their one previous meeting on the international stage, he had beaten Wang Yang in six games in their second round men’s singles meeting at the Liebherr 2017 European Championships in Düsseldorf (6-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-5, 7-11, 12-10, 12-10).
Defeat for Panagiotis Gionis but later there was better news. In the contests for the one remaining place, he overcame Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu, the no.16 seed (12-10, 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 17-19, 12-10).
Panagiotis Gionis now meets England’s Liam Pitchford, the top seed; he ended the hopes of Vladimir Sidorenko, the no.45 seed (11-4, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4) after the Russian teenager had defeated Hungary’s Adam Szudi, the no.35 seed (11-7, 11-7, 14-12, 7-11, 11-4).
Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw Belgium’s Florent Lambiet, overcame Niagol Stoyanov, the no.31 seed (7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-3, 5-11, 11-8), Russia’s Kirill Skachkov, the no.13 seed, halted the aspirations of Kou Lei (11-3, 13-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-5).
At the semi-final stage Panagiotis Gionis meets Liam Pitchford, Florent Lambiet confronts Kirill Skachkov.
The semi-finals and final will be played to a conclusion on Wednesday 17th March.