by Wade Townsend
Tables to Watch
Hometown hero Hugo Calderano is up against Swedish southpaw Par Gerell in the third round. Expect to see some big serves coming from both ends of the table. Gerell has the ranking and experience, but if the Brazilian’s backhand is connecting, the crowd is going to get loud and may just carry Calderano through to the last 16. Definitely not to be missed.
Romania’s Elizabeta Samara took down Brazilian Lin Gui in her first match. It was a convincing victory, especially with the crowd against her. But she will have an uphill battle ahead— Ding Ning is waiting for her in the next round. A better draw could have seen Samara as a real medal chance. However, with a match under her belt and nerves out of the way, the Romanian is definitely going to put on a good show against the number one seed.
Japan’s Koki Niwa and Nigeria’s Segun Toriola could be involved in the first real upset of Rio. Niwa is one of the most spectacular players in the field and has a unique brand of shot making that sometimes defies logic. But he has recently ran in to a slump in form on the World Tour, losing to lower ranked players in consecutive events. Toriola has 4 inches and 20kg on the young man from Japan, and at his record equalling seventh Olympic Games, will rely on his experience and physicality to try get over the line. And don’t forget, the Nigerian has taken down higher ranked opponents in his past Olympic outings — this matchup has all the ingredients for an upset.
Kasumi Ishikawa is one of the true threats to China during the Games and will be looking to take a spot on the podium. She will need to build her confidence in the early rounds and her first match will give a good indication of her chances to medal. Standing in her way however is DPRK ’s Kim Song I. Kim is a defender and the Japanese number one has struggled against choppers in the past. If nerves hit Ishikawa and she starts slow this match could go either way.
Fan favourite Timo Boll will be stepping on to the court on Day 2. His performance in singles at the Olympics has never quite lived up to expectations. Surprisingly this has not been due to the Chinese dominance of the podium; he has never faced China in singles at the Games. Fellow Europeans have been his downfall on three occasions, the fourth loss coming from Korea’s Oh Sang Eun. His opponent in the third round will be either Poland’s Jakub Dyjas or Russia’s Alexander Shibaev. Boll will be hot favourite, but he will have to overcome a European threat so as to not make an untimely exit once again.
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