21 Mar 2017

Yesterday saw some monumental upsets. Can day three bring out the matches to top it? With Grand Slams in the balance, of course it can.

by Wade Townsend

Here Comes Hugo

The first match in Rio for Jun Mizutani will be against Hugo Calderano — #hugomania — and who would want that? An in form opponent and more than 5,000 Brazilians cheering against you in the stands. It’s going to be a rough ride for Mizutani. They’ve played once before and Jun won in six games, but he will have to do more this time around to neutralise the threat of a rapidly maturing Calderano. Would a win for the Brazilian even be considered an upset at this point? It’s going to be huge — maybe the biggest day three moment in Rio, in any sport. Don’t miss it. Seriously.

All Eyes on Ai

Japan’s attention will no longer be divided. With Ishikawa out of the singles, all eyes will be on Ai Fukuhara as she plays Daniela Monteiro Dodean.  While the top of the draw has opened up, Fukuhara finds herself in the loaded bottom half. It’s time for the Japanese star to use her experience and step up to chase a podium finish. Meanwhile, the best medal chance for the Romanian is in the teams, Daniela definitely has the talent to cause the Japanese audience some concern. Follow this match to see how Fukuhara responds to the pressure of a nation on her shoulders.

Start Your Engines

This matchup has been anticipated since the draw: Zhang Jike versus Chien-An Chen. Zhang leads Chen four-two head to head. The last encounter was at the Korea Open where Chen won by the narrowest of margins in thee seventh. But that was more than a month ago in a quiet hall in Incheon. Zhang is by far the most inconsistent of the Chinese national team on the World Tour but it has never stopped him from taking the titles that count. He is already among the all-time greats of the game, and his fans trust their man to rise to the occasion; especially when a history making double Grand Slam is on the cards. Chen didn’t look in the best form against He Zhiwen in the previous round and is going to have to step things up. Expect Zhang to fall back on his arsenal of weapons — a magic reverse serve, the bendiest banana flick in the world and tree-trunk quads — to take the match.

Defence! *clap clap clap* Defence!

Yesterday we saw Ishikawa go down to a lower ranked DPR Korea defender. Germany’s Petrissa Solja is hoping to do better. She is sitting at number 15 in the world and will be up against Ri Myong Sun who is some 20 spots below. We don’t often get to see the players from DPR Korea, the nation only ever competing in the biggest events, but when they’re around medals are always within their reach. Solja scored herself a bronze at last year’s World Cup, while Myong Sun took silver at the World Team Cup. Expect to see DPR Korea once again be a step ahead of Solja and upset the seeding.

Chasing Immortality

When world number one Ma Long steps on to the court he is going to be chasing Olympic gold to complete his Grand Slam and make his mark in the history books. Without it, Ma’s seemingly invincible winning streaks on the World Tour will be relegated to the footnotes in Zhang Jike’s domination of the decade. His first opponent will be Jung Youngsik. Jung Youngsik is a very talented athlete who as been performing well on the World Tour. However he needs to get a game on the board early in the match and hope for a bit of luck. Even then, does anyone think he can overcome Ma Long? Watch for a clinical display from the world number one as he begins his hunt for gold. Don’t blink, it’s going to be quick. Be on the lookout for a two minute game — Ma might as well be playing TTX.

To watch today’s play head over here to catch all the action from your local television rights holder.

You can also head this way for the full schedule and live results from today’s action.

Rio 2016 Rio Men's News Rio Team News ma long Hugo Calderano zhang jike Jun Mizutani Petrissa Solja Ai Fukuhara Daniela Monteiro Dodean Ri Myong-Sun Jung Young-Sik Chien-An Chen

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