Victor Liu Powers into the Main Draw in Budapest

By Matt Hetherington | April 22, 2019, 2:38 a.m. (ET)

The US team got off to a great start on day 1 of the 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest, Hungary. With Nikhil Kumar, Nick Tio, Victor Liu and Amy Wang all contesting the group stages, it would be a race to see which of them could reach the prestigious main draw. 

Already through to the main draw stages are USA's Kanak Jha, Lily Zhang and Wu Yue.

With a few matches left to go, on day 2 of the competition, one player already took matters into his own hands and finished his group on the first day.

That player was Victor Liu.

Sitting in the third seeded position in his group, he opened with a 4-0 win against Ivory Coast's Ali Kanate. Kanate is currently ranked 340 in the world, an impressive start for Liu, who won 5,5,5,8.

The match against the top seed would be a great challenge. Victor would face Segun Toriola of Nigeria. Toriola is one of a select few legends of table tennis who have competed in 7 Olympic Games in the sport. He made his debut in Barcelona in 1992, competing through to the most recent games in 2016 in Rio. 

Toriola is currently ranked 133 in the world, but in 2008 was on the fringes of the world's top 50. He is a 4 time singles champion of the All-Africa Games, a 2-time African Champion in singles, and the gold medalist of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. 

Liu got off to a flying start, taking down the first 3 games in style, with Toriola fighting for every point but often being on the back foot. While the experienced Nigerian veteran came back to steal away the 4th game, it was Liu who finished the match in the clutches of the 5th, 12-10. The 5th game a very important stop to Toriola's building momentum. 

An excellent win for Liu and he now joins his three teammates in the main draw. 

Nick Tio got off to a slow start in his match against Patrick Chojnowski of Poland, losing the first 2 games. He gathered himself and knuckled down to fight back into the match and trailed 3-2 before the Polish star took the match. Chojnowski is a class 10 European, World and Olympic Champion.

Nikhil Kumar and Amy Wang both locked in 4-0 wins and, along with Tio, will face their second group match today. 

You can see their time schedule here.