by Ian Marshall
In the men’s singles, of the players who started the day the highest rated player in their respective groups, only Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall, the no.5 seed, Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej, the no.9 seed and Belgium’s Cédric Nuytinck, the no.10 seed, ended the day unbeaten.
A high rate of casualties, in the women’s singles, it was even higher; only the host nation’s Maria Xiao, the no.6 seed and Yuan Jia Nan of France, the no.9 seed, ended the day without a defeat against their names. Notably, Maria Xiao has concluded her first phase matches and is assured of top spot; Yuan Jia Nan has one match remaining, she meets Latvia’s Sabina Musajeva but is mathematically assured top place in the group.
Casualties, the biggest being Romania’s Ovidiu Ionecsu, his hopes of qualification for Tokyo 2020 have virtually evaporated. One match remaining against Israel’s Tal Israeli, his hopes of a top two finish are slim.
On the opening day of play he was beaten by Spain’s Jesus Cantero (11-7, 12-10, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5) and by Italy’s Mihai Bobocica (7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6).
Bobocica ended the day unbeaten, he accounted for Tal Israeli in his opening match (11-8, 13-11, 11-7, 11-9) and now meets Jesus Cantero in his concluding contest. In his second match of the day Jesus Cantero experienced defeat at the hands of Israeli (6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5).
Future in balance
Problems for Ovidiu Ionecsu, for the remaining players who started the day, the leading names in the respective groups, the future lies in the balance. For Spain’s Alvaro Robles, the no.7 seed, Poland’s Jakub Dyjas, the no.8 seed and Finland’s Benedek Olah, the no.11 seed, it is one win and one defeat, the same for Great Britain’s Sam Walker.
The players to shine and, against the odds, end the day unbeaten were Aleksandr Khanin of Belarus, Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko, Hungary’s Adam Szudi and Luxembourg’s Eric Glod.
Destiny out of hands
Similarly, in the women’s singles event, it is one win and one defeat for Luxembourg’s Sarah De Nutte, the no.7 seed, Italy’s Debora Vivarelli, the no.5 seed and Spain’s Galia Dvorak, the no.8 seed. Three players per group, initial phase matches concluded; their destiny is out of their hands.
Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya, Great Britain’s Charlotte Carey and Ukraine’s Solomiya Brateyko, the players against whom they experienced defeat, will determine their fate.
Altinkaya accounted for De Nutte (12-10, 10-12, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9), Carey beat Vivarelli (8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4, 11-9), Brateyko overcame Dvorak (14-12, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 9-11, 11-7).
One match remains
Likewise, for Serbia’s Izabela Lupulesku, the no.12 seed, Switzerland’s Rachel Moret, the no.10 seed, and Great Britain’s Tin-Tin Ho, the no.11 seed, it is one win, one defeat and one match remaining; a situation that applies also to the Belarus duo of Nadezhda Bogdanova the no.14 seed and Daria Trigolos, the no.13 seed.
Contrary to expectations, Croatia’s Mateja Jeger, Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin and Serbia’s Sabina Surjan alongside Prithika Pavade of France and Slovenia’s Katarina Strazar ended the day unbeaten, two matches played, two wins.
Play in the group stage concludes on Thursday 22nd April, the date on which the first round matches in both disciplines will commence.