by Simon Daish
Russia’s Orlov endured a gruelling day at the office in the Under 17 Boys’ Singles draw, with his sixth and final fixture of the day providing his most formidable challenge. Taking on Liu Zhenlong, the second-ranked competitor in the event, Orlov embraced the occasion and his bravery was rewarded as he prevailed 3-1 (11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9) to qualify for the semi-finals.
Joining Orlov in the last four is Hungary’s David Szantosi, who displayed his class with a trouble-free start to his campaign. Topping his group with two victories, Szantosi needed just the three games to see off his first knock-out stage opponent, Serbia’s Bogdan Ilic (11-3, 11-6, 11-6). Szantosi followed up with a 3-1 win over Germany’s Matthias Danzer (11-8, 11-6, 11-13, 11-7) and has high expectations.
“I think I played pretty well today, so I hope I can continue to play like this in the days ahead. I hope to win my semi-final tomorrow. I didn’t think too much about the jump from Under 15 before the competition. I hope I can win some matches in the Under 19 event,” said David Szantosi
Hungary will also be represented in the semi-finals by Balazs Lei after he came from behind to beat Croatia’s Leo Vekic 3-1 (5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3). However, there’s no place in the penultimate round for Lei’s fellow compatriot Erik Huzsvar following his four-game loss to the top-ranked entry, Angel Naranjo of Puerto Rico (11-6, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4).
“It was a long day with plenty of tough matches. I have started well, and now I’m happy to be in the semi-finals. I expect to win my Under 19s group tomorrow and make it as far as possible, and I’m hoping to win my first WTT title in the Under 17s,” said Angel Naranjo
The Under 13 Boys’ Singles trophy won’t be heading in Petr Hodina’s direction after the Austrian hopeful saw his run come to an abrupt halt. The second-highest ranked player in the draw, Hodina was left stunned in the quarter-finals as Hungary’s Botond Zoltan Varga left his mark for all to see (11-3, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7).
Tiago Abiodun dropped just one game from the five matches he encountered during the day to cement his name as a significant contender in the title race. The Portuguese competitor negotiated all three of his group fixtures, and his Round of 16 meeting against India’s Aarnav Naveen Chandra (11-3, 11-2, 11-2) in straight games to set him in good stead heading into the quarter-finals. Abiodun’s only blemish came against Qatar’s Rawad Alnaser, requiring four games to defeat the Under 13 champion from WTT Youth Contender Tunis (12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7).
“I’m happy with my first day here in Belgrade. All my matches were tough, especially the quarter-final against Alnaser, who is a really good player. I will try my best to win the Under 13 title tomorrow,” said Tiago Abiodun
The upper half of the draw sees Steven Joel Moreno Rivera and Damian Floro set up an exciting semi-final clash. Moreno Rivera’s confidence grew as the day progressed, after finishing second in his group. The Puerto Rican emerged triumphant against Serbia’s Borislav Rajic (11-4, 8-11, 11-3, 11-9) and Germany’s Matej Haspel (11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9). Slovakia’s Floro contested just the one knock-out stage fixture, defeating German counterpart Friedrich Clemens Kuhn von Burgsdorff 3-1 at the quarter-final hurdle (9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8).
“My hope today was to reach the semi-finals. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to make the finals because I’d like to play for first place. I respect the other players, and I know it’s not going to be easy, but I feel good, and I’m going to fight to the maximum,” said Damian Floro
Saturday sees play continue in the Under 13 and Under 17 Boys’ Singles events, with both wrapping in the closing stages of the day. The Under 15 and Under 19 events focus on group action, while the Under 11 Boys’ Singles title will also be decided.
For event details of WTT Youth Contender Belgrade, click here.