(By Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
Worlds Day One: Men’s Championship Division Review
We are underway at the 2018 World Team Championships in Halmstad, Sweden. There are three divisions in the Men’s event with the top seeds in the Championship Division being No.1 Germany, No.2 China, and No.3 Japan. The German Team includes World No. 2 Timo Boll and World No. 3 Dimitrij Ovtcharov and is rounded out by Filus, Franziska and Steger. The Chinese team includes World No.1 Fan Zhendong, Lin Gaoyuan, Ma Long, Xu Xin, and seventeen-year-old Wang Chuqin. The Japanese team includes Niwa, Mizutani, Matsudaira, Oshima and their fourteen-year-old sensation Tomokazu Harimoto. There are 24 teams in the Championship Division – France, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Portugal, Sweden, and Brazil round out the top 10 seeds.
The top seeded German Team was pushed to the fifth set today in their match against Egypt. Despite the score, Germany was in control throughout – but the result was closer than expected. Both Egypt wins were logged by Omar Assar (World No. 17). Assar defeated Ruwen Filus (World No. 21) 3-1 and then upset Timo Boll (World No. 2) 3-2 to score both wins for Egypt. However, his teammates did not have similar success with El-Beiali losing to Boll 3-0, Khalid Assar losing to Ovtcharov 3-1, and El-Beiali losing to Filus 3-0 in the deciding set.
China and Japan, the second and third seeds respectively, each won their matches 3-0. France, the fourth seed, won a hard-fought battle with India 3-2. France won the first set – Simon Gauzy defeated Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 3-2. Gauzy trailed 2-1 in the set and both of the final games were tied 10-10 before Gauzy closed out each game for 12-10 wins. Gauzy over Gnanasekaran (11, -7, 7, -10, -10). The second set was won by Sharath Kamal Achanta who defeated France’s Lebesson 3-1. The third set was another 3-2 test with France’s Quentin Robinot defeating Amalraj Anthony (-7, 7, -9, 5, -6). Sharath Kamal Achanta then defeated Simon Gauzy 3-1 to even the match at two sets each. Emmanuel Lebesson then defeated Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 3-1 to seal the victory for France.
The only Day 1 upset was Croatia over Austria – within their group, that is number 6 over number 4 by seeding. Croatia’s Pucar, Cacina, and Kojic each won their matches to seal a 3-0 win. And another match of note was England over Belarus, where England was favored but the highest ranked player was Vladamir Samsonov for Belarus. With this format, the best player can often win two matches for one’s team making the scores close. In this case, however, England’s Liam Pitchford was able to upset Samsonov 3-2 allowing England to sweep the match 3-0.
Check in with ButterflyOnline.com for updates throughout the tournament.