The Portuguese Thriller: 2017 WTTC First Round stories

This thrilling story starts at the secondary hall of the 2017 World Table Tennis Championships. Men’s Singles competition, Round of 128. Three Portuguese players playing at the same time, at neighbor tables and the three of them looking for a spot in the Round of 64. Different expectations, different outcomes but something in common: exciting and eye-catching spectacle.

The contenders

players

Having the lowest ranking position of the team is always a challenge. Diogo Carvalho started the competition the very first day. Allocated in the Qualification Group 62, won his three matches, only losing two games, and qualified for the Preliminary Round. Once there, he beat Martin Allegro, from Belgium. The draw was not fair to him though, as he had to face Ruwen Filus, the local German defender who recently lost the German Championship final against Timo Boll.

On the other hand, Tiago Apolonia directly qualified for the main draw, as his ranking granted him the 16th seed. Therefore, some pressure was on him to get through the first rounds of the competition and reach, at least, the Round of 16. As a consequence, the match against NG Pak Nam, from Hong Kong, should not have bothered him much.

Finally, Joao Geraldo had to keep trying to improve on his international appearances. With the seed number 58, he would still dream of reaching the last rounds of the Men’s Singles draw.  Nevertheless, the draw made him face his training colleague at Ochsenhausen, Alvaro Robles, who perfectly knows him and would not be an easy task.

The matches

Diogo Carvalho VS Ruwen Filus

The expectations: an easy match for Ruwen Filus. The result: 2-4 (7-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 5-11, 6-11) for Ruwen Filus. Although four of the sets were not very tight, the rallies and action that the crowded seats enjoyed were far from boring. The defending skills of the German player did not frighten Carvalho, who managed to win two sets and really put Ruwen into trouble.

The German player celebration, cheering himself while facing his supporters, proves the importance of this victory, and how meritorious was the Portuguese performance against him.

You can enjoy the full match in the next video from the ITTF oficial streaming page:


filus

Tiago Apolonia VS NG Pak Nam

In this case, the expectations for the Portuguese player were to finish the match in something close to four straight games. The result: 3-4 (6-11, 11-8, 14-16, 11-7, 12-10, 12-14, 6-11) for NG Pak Nam.

The 19 years old player from Hong-Kong played smartly against Apolonia. He managed to place the ball in opposite corners of the table and tested the Portguese footwork, which made him make many unforced errors.

With 10-11 for Apolonia and 2-2 in the set score, we enjoyed one of best points of the day, in which the Portuguese came back from lobbing to attacking with his forehand and managed to score his third set. In the next set, he got to a 10-8 score and two match balls. A silly mistake and an exceptional forehand topspin by NG Pak Nam leveled the score, and the player from Hong King would end up winning that set and the seventh too, to make one of the biggest upsets of the competition.

Full match available at the ITTF website linked here:


apolonia

Joao Geraldo VS Alvaro Robles

Difficult to establish expectations on this match. Both young players in continuous growth during the last years, who know each other as they train together every day. A tight match would have been the most reasonable thing to happen. The result: 4-3 (12-10, 11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 6-11, 6-11, 13-11) for Joao Geraldo.

Although it could seem a very even match, it was not really until the last set that it got like that. As can be seen, first three sets were for the Portuguese player, which seemed to be going far easier than expected. Quick attacks by Geraldo did not find answer from the Spanish player, who could not find a way to react to them. However, the trend changed in the fourth, and Robles took the initiative to score three games in a row and level the match.

The last set had both players in a different mood: Robles hoping to complete a notable comeback, while Geraldo had to find a way to recover his performance in the first sets. The first match ball was for the Portguese with 10-9, the second for the Spanish, 10-11. None of them successful though, as the next one for Geraldo would serve him to win the last set, and consequently the match. Nonetheless, a lucky point, as the ball bounced on the line, which obviously annoyed Robles, who threw the racket away and nodded on disapprovement.

You can watch the full match at the ITTF official website:


geraldo

 

The outcomes

Three players with three different feelings after their matches. While Apolonia’s disappointment is obvious, Carvalho’s defeat does not feel so bad and Geraldo’s victory brings many aspects to improve.

Only the latter, Geraldo, will keep competing on the main draw, along with Marcos Freitas and Joao Monteiro who qualified prior to him. The Portuguese thriller had a bittersweet feeling but the stories to come might be sweeter.

Let the spectacle continue

Day 4 of the 2017 World Table Tennis Championships will bring loads of excitement to the German soil. With the amount of tables already reduced to 8, the following competitions and rounds will be played today:

  • Mixed Doubles: Round 3 & Quarter-Finals
  • Women’s Doubles: Round 3
  • Men’s Doubles: Round 3
  • Women’s Singles: Round 3
  • Men’s Singles: Round 2

All big names today again: Ma Long, Ding Ning, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Xu Xin, Feng Tianwei… so good!

Keep tuned with the action today at:

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* Cover photo: ITTF

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