by Simon Daish
Suffering a shock defeat to Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya earlier in the day (12-10, 10-12, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9), De Nutte couldn’t afford any further slip-ups. Faced with the prospect with an unthinkable group exit, De Nutte recovered from a three-game deficit to beat Greece’s Aikaterini Toliou 4-3 (6-11, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-7, 11-9) in what could prove a vital outcome for the seventh seed!
Another player looking to put a slow start behind them, Debora Vivarelli finished her day on a positive note with her first win of Group B.
The no.5 seed from Italy, who was considered amongst the most likely to advance beyond the group stage prior to the tournament, appeared more assured in her capabilities against Tatiana Kukulkova, besting the Slovak no.22 seed by a 4-2 score-line (11-7, 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 11-13, 13-11) to boost her chances of progression.
Vivarelli’s Italian colleague Giorgia Piccolin proved successful for the second match in a row to wrestle control of Group G: taking on the group’s highest seeded competitor in Switzerland’s Rachel Moret, 17th seed Piccolin negotiated a tricky opening on her way to a convincing five-game victory (12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4).
Two winning performances for Italian fans to celebrate, it was the same for Spanish followers of the sport with Maria Xiao and Galia Dvorak, seeded sixth and eighth, cruising past Turkey’s Ozge Yilmaz (13-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6) and Belgium’s Nathalie Marchetti (11-7, 11-9, 11-3, 16-14) in Groups C and D. France’s Yuan Jia Nan and Prithika Pavade, Croatia’s Mateja Jeger, Serbia’s Sabina Surjan, and Katarina Strazar of Slovenia ended the day with perfect records with all five players prevailing for the second time in their respective groups.
A rising star emerging from the Russian table tennis set up, no.23 seed Vladimir Sidorenko is proving he has what it takes to compete at senior level with the 19-year-old ensuring his qualification from Group D in the men’s singles race.
Sidorenko’s second success of the day came against Moldova’s Vladislav Ursu, however, despite his 10 place seeding advantage, the Russian survived a difficult contest needing all seven games to see off Ursu (11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4).
Over in Group E, Hungary’s Adam Szudi also made it two wins from two on the opening day of play in Guimarães – the no.16 seed accounted for Finnish no.11 seed Benedek Olah in the evening session (11-13, 11-4, 11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 11-6) to secure his passage to the next round.
There were players towards the upper end of the seedings list who earnt their first victories of the tournament, all of which could prove crucial in shaping the group stage qualification picture.
In Group A, Spain’s Alvaro Robles made up for his opening round defeat with a straight games win over the talented Ioannis Sgouropoulos of Greece (15-13, 11-6, 13-11, 11-4), while Poland’s Jakub Dyjas and Samuel Kulczycki kept their hopes alive in Groups D and H, prevailing in their respective encounters with Belarus’ Pavel Platonov (11-9, 11-8, 11-2, 11-3) and Luxembourg’s Luka Mladenovic (11-13, 11-8, 11-3, 10-12, 9-11, 11-2, 11-7). However, there was a second defeat for Romanian no.6 seed Ovidiu Ionescu, losing out to Italy’s Mihai Bobocica (7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6).