IFX WCPP 2017 – No Big Surprises On Day One

After the first day of the World Championship of Ping Pong there were no major surprises for the big favourites. The players who were the favourites in advance cruised through the group stage. The two finalists of last year, Andrew Baggaley and Maxim Smyrnev, didn’t waste any energy and won their both matches quite easily in two sets. Also the German Alexander Flemming didn’t drop a set and neither did Lubo Pistej. The Scot Gavin Rumgay struggled a bit in his second match, but was able to overcome a tough hurdle and qualified for the last 32.

In group H it was Britain’s own Chris Doran, who really had to fight for it. Against the Danish Sorensen, he lost the first set and was struggling in the second. The turning point in his match was the ‘double point’ he took and won. After that he felt more free to play and won the second and third match quite easily. Also Likewise the second match was a struggle for the man who won the Masters last Thursday. After winning the first and losing the second he had to play another decider. With the crowd behind him, he was somehow able to keep pressure on the Chinese and won the third.

The only upset of the day was the elimination of Andrew Rushton. The Brit who has always performed at his best in ‘Ally Pally’ wasn’t able to find his rhythm and struggled throughout. He lost his first match against the Scot Johnston, had a difficult match against the Brit Gunn although he won 2-1. Against the Chinese Shen, he didn’t have a chance and wasn’t able to overcome this hurdle. Shockingly, he lost 2-0 and got knocked-out. But this is also a good reflection of the level here in ‘Ally Pally.’ It’s so difficult to predict the outcome of any game this year.

There were no further big surprises, meaning all the big names made it through. The only ‘little’ surprise was the elimination of Ni Xialin. The former European Champion and competing in three Olympics showed that playing in last Wednesday Last Chance Saloon isn’t the same as playing in the World Championship. She lost her first match, won the second. In her third match she lost the first set and won the second meaning she had to go all the way. But in the third set it was all over and she lost the match.

The draw for the last 32 proved to be seemingly easy for the ‘big guns.’ But when something seems to be easy on paper it doesn’t mean it’s easy in practise. Andrew Baggaley and Maxim Smyrnev both lost the first set in their matches. The Russian Smyrnev was even close ofto getting eliminated when the score reached 14-14 in the second. But somehow he was able to keep his nerves under control, . Winning the second and third set. As did Baggaley but the current world champion cruised through those sets. The German Alexander Flemming faced the Russian Popov and showed why he is an outsider for the title.

The rest of the ‘big guns’ didn’t waste any second and did what they had to do. Chris Doran, Gavin Rumgay, Pistej and Gonzales won their matches quite easily. In two matches two Chinese players faced each other, meaning there will be at least two players from China in the last 16. The level of players is insanely high this year, meaning in other words it could be anyone’s game. So it sure would be interesting so see who will finally is there to claim the title this year.

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