by Simon Daish
Benedek Olah, who entered proceedings seeded 11th and the favourite to advance from Group E, experienced the narrowest of losses in his final group match against Moldova’s Andrei Putuntica (11-9, 12-10, 7-11, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 12-10) to finish bottom of the group. Instead, it was Denmark’s Tobias Rasmussen and Hungary’s Adam Szudi who qualified from the group with two wins apiece.
Another man who came mightily close to group stage elimination was Ovidiu Ionescu, but against the odds, the Romanian fought back to advance from Group C in dramatic fashion.
Two defeats on the opening day of play, sixth seed Ionescu needed to land a convincing win in his closing group match, and hope Italy’s Mihai Bobocica beat Spanish rival Jesus Cantero by a large enough score-line to swing circumstances in his favour. Completing his side of the job with a straight games win over Israel’s Tal Israeli (11-9, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8), luck would so have it that Bobocica’s 4-2 success against Cantero (8-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-3) proved enough to guide Ionescu through to the knock-out stage with a runner up finish.
Ionescu progressing by the narrowest of margins, there was no such drama for the man seeded directly above him. Fifth seed Paul Drinkhall maintained his perfect record in Guimarães with the Great British competitor registering a third win from three Group B fixtures, outclassing Latvia’s Daniels Kogans (11-4, 11-0, 11-2, 11-5).
Fellow Brit Samuel Walker, no.12 seed, joins Drinkhall in the main draw after securing a top two finish in Group F with his five-game success against Finland’s Alex Naumi (11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 14-12). Luxembourg’s Eric Glod tops the group despite his defeat to Belgium’s Florent Lambiet on day two (12-10, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 12-10).
Elsewhere, Spain’s Alvaro Robles and Poland’s Jakub Dyjas, seeded seventh and eighth, both progress as do Slovak no.9 seed Lubomir Pistej and Belgian no.10 seed Cedric Nuytinck.