by Simon Daish
Alvaro Robles, who faced opposition from Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall in the last eight, settled into the tie quickly and didn’t look back limiting Drinkhall to very little. The lower seeded of the two, truth be told no.7 seed Robles always looked the more likely from minute one and emerged the deserved winner across the five games (11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5).
Requiring just one more win to seal his qualification in the first knock-out tournament in Guimarães, but the task could prove challenging with in-form Vladimir Sidorenko keen to beat Robles to the prize.
A highly talented young competitor who is beginning to show his quality to the world, 18-year-old Sidorenko had been electrifying in the lead-up to the quarter-finals with victories over the likes of Jakub Dyjas and Lubomir Pistej, seeded eighth and ninth respectively. However, the Russian’s latest win is his biggest scalp yet, toppling Czech no.2 seed Pavel Sirucek in five games (6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9).
Romania’s Rares Sipos, 20, has also moved to within a win from securing an unlikely ticket to the Japanese capital following his successful outing against Denmark’s Tobias Rasmussen. The slight favourite with a six place seeding advantage, in reality the margin of victory proved much more decisive with Sipos prevailing 4-0 over no.26 seed Rasmussen (11-4, 13-11, 11-7, 11-6).
Another young star looking to make an impression in the quarter-finals, but for Poland’s Samuel Kulczycki it was defeat. The 19-year-old put up a brave fight and can take heart from his overall effort, however, on this occasion it was Ukraine’s Kou Lei, seeded fourth, who held the upper hand (11-9, 11-5, 11-5, 15-13).
Kou Lei moves on to face Rares Sipos in the top half of the semi-final draw, while Alvaro Robles and Vladimir Sidorenko battle it out in the other qualification play-off match with the two victors heading to Tokyo.