by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In round one they face the Germany pairing formed by Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja; I would venture to suggest of the possible combinations the Japanese pairing could have drawn, they have drawn the most difficult.
Clones of Norio Takashima, thus exquisite in technique Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato are both defenders; but if there is one player on duty in the Women’s Doubles event, who has the style to beat the defensive artiste, it is Shan Xiaona.
She is a right handed pen-hold grip player who uses short pimpled rubber; add to the fact that Petrissa Solja is a left handed top spin player who employs the reverse smooth rubber on each side of the racket, the Germans provide a powerful combination against defensive combinations.
Likewise, in the same half of the Women’s Doubles draw, it is defence versus attack; the difference being that it is Japan that proves the top spin players. Yui Hamamoto and Hina Hayata meet Russia’s Maria Dolgikh and Polina Mikhailova.
A European presence, in the opposite half of the draw the old continent is also represented; Hungary’s Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel are on duty but they experience a tough opening round task. They confront Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, the top seeds and three times winners on this year’s ITTF World Tour.
The victors face a semi-final meeting against aspiring Asian outfits. Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching and Huang Yi-Hua confront the Hong Kong combination of Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching.
Hong Kong versus Chinese Taipei in the opening round of the Women’s Doubles event; it is the same in the Men’s Doubles competition. Ho Kwan Kit and Tang Peng confront Chuang Chih-Yuan and Huang Sheng-Sheng.
They appear in the same half of the draw as the defending champions, Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima; the top seeds; they play the French partnership of Antoine Hachard and Romain Ruiz in round one.
An opportunity for a European pair to cause an upset and reach the semi-final round; in the opposite half of the draw that scenario is assured; in the opening round Russia’s Alexei Liventsov and Mikhail Paikov meet Belgium’s Robin Devos and Cédric Nuytinck.
An all European affair, in the one remaining first round Men’s Doubles engagement, it is an all-Asian duel. Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu, the second seeds, meet Japan’s Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura.