(by Steve Hopkins)
The group stage of the Dishang 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup concluded on Friday. Thirteen of the 21 elite players who qualified competed in groups, with the top 8 advancing (2 per group) to face the top 8 seeds.
There were four groups and the top seed in each group advanced. Two of the second seeds advanced as well, though unfortunately one of those not advancing was USA’s Kanak Jha. The other unfortunate group round second seed was Quadri Aruna of Nigeria.
For Kanak, he began the day with a very tight match with top seeded Liam Pitchford. Kanak won the first and third games, but found himself down 3-2. He fought back to even the game score with a 12-10 win in the 6th game, but he fell short in the 7th game and lost 4-3. He then had a short break and was back in competition with Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan. Kanak won the first game, but then lost three in a row. Kanak again fought back to even the game score, but he lost the seventh game in heartbreaking fashion 14-12.
The list of advancing players is without any major surprises. The lowest world ranking among them is Darko Jorgic (World No. 34). Of course, the reward for advancing is the Main Draw, where 8 of the best players in the world await.
Chuang Chih-Yuan (who advanced from Kanak Jha’s second group) will face World No. 1 Fan Zhendong. Liam Pitchford (the top finisher from Group 1) will face Dimitrij Ovtcharov. Darko Jorgic (who upset Quadri Aruna) will now face Ma Long. The other seeded players include 2019 World Cup finalist Tomokazu Harimoto, Mattias Falck, Hugo Calderano, Koki Niwa, and Lin Yun-Ju.
ITTF TV will be following the matches via livestream. Tomorrow’s action in the Main Draw begins at 11a local time (10p Eastern this evening).
Check in at ButterflyOnline.com starting Thursday for updates on the progress of this event and other events.
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