by Ian Marshall. ITTF Publications Editor
He beat Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the no.25 seed and thus gained revenge for the defeat he had suffered earlier this year when losing in the first round of the Men’s Singles event at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Korea Open.
In Korea he had experienced defeat by the very narrowest of margins (11-5, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 15-13); in Rio de Janeiro, he extracted vicious revenge. He beat Chen Chien-An in four straight games (11-5, 13-11, 12-10, 11-7).
“We have played against each other before this year and we have had our wins and losses, so we are familiar with each other’s playing style, I pleased with how I played today”, said Zhang Jike, who was very much on duty in the theatre he enjoys.
“Playing at the Olympic Games is still different as compared to other events”, he added. “The desire for victory at the Olympic Games is definitely higher when compared to ITTF World Tour events; it was the same for Chen Chien-An, we are both playing on the Olympic stage, giving our full focus for every point, it really depends on how you keep yourself on top of your game.”
Success without drama for Zhang Jike, it was not so for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.3 seed; he needed the full seven games to beat Qatar’s Li Ping, the no.21 seed (8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9).
“The first match is always difficult and even more difficult when against a player who has already played a match”, said Dimitrij Ovtcharov. “I have practised and prepared but coming into the hall with all the noise and the atmosphere created, it takes time to adjust.”
Most certainly Dimitrij Ovtcharov faced a most worthy opponent; Li Ping won the Mixed Doubles title at the H.I.S. 2009 World Championships in Yokohama in partnership with Cao Zhen.
High Class Opponent
“Tactically and technically Li Ping was very good; he returned service well and we know each other well, before we came here we practised together in Germany”, added Dimitrij Ovtcharov. “In the sixth game I led 7-3 and lost; that made it extra hard for the seventh.”
Success for Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Zhang Jike, as matters commenced in the lower half of the draw in the third round of the Men’s Singles event, there were also wins for Japan’s Koki Niwa and Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting.
Wong Chun Ting and Koki Niwa
According to status, Wong Chun Ting, the no.6 seed, beat Canada’s Eugene Wang (11-8, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9); conversely, Koki Niwa caused a minor surprise; he accounted for Austria’s Stefan Fegerl, at no.16 seeded one place higher.
Koki Niwa won in five games (11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 4-11, 11-5).