by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Success and it was success as predicted, the two had met on eight previous occasions on the international scene, Tang Peng had won just once; in 2006, a decade ago when Dimitrij Ovtcharov was a teenager, he had prevailed at the ITTF World Tour Kuwait Open.
Clearly the German learned quickly. He won all the next seven encounters; most pertinently he emerged successful when the pair met two years ago at the semi-final stage of the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok and earlier this year at the ITTF World Tour German Open.
“I’m very satisfied with how I played today; my focus today was better than in recent matches, I think I was a step above my recent matches but still some way below my best. Certainly I felt confident against Tang Peng, I have a good record against him and maybe he doesn’t feel too confident playing me. Now it’s Fan Zhendong, I’ve not played against him a great deal but I practised with him for over an hour this morning”, Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
Success for Dimitrij Ovtcharov and that was very much the scenario as the first round Men’s Singles matches concluded.
Chinese excellence was very much in evidence as Fan Zhendong, the no.2 seed accounted for Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.15 seed (11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4) and Xu Xin, the no.3 seed, defeated Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the no.11 seed (11-8, 11-11, 11-6, 11-8).
Impressive performances, it was the somewhat the same although a little more hard earned for Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.5 seed and like Chien Chen-An from Chinese Taipei. He beat Japan’s Yuya Oshima, the no.13 seed, in six games (11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9).
At the quarter-final stage, in addition to Fan Zhendong meeting Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Xu Xin opposes Yuto Muramatsu; in the opposite half of the draw China’s Ma Long meets Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, Chuang Chih-Yuan opposes Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik.
Meanwhile, as play concluded in the first round of the Men’s Singles event; so the quarter-finals of both the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles competitions came to a conclusion.
In the Men’s Doubles event Russia’s Alexei Liventsov and Mikhail Paikov beat Belgium’s Robin Devos and Cédric Nuytinck (11-7, 11-7, 11-4, 11-9); Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima, the defending champions, overcame the French pairing of Antoine Hachard and Romain Ruiz (11-6, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8).
Comprehensive wins; it was somewhat the same for Japan’s Yui Hamamoto and Hina Hayata in the Women’s Doubles event but not for Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching.
Yui Hamamoto and Hina Hayata overcame Russia’s Maria Dolgikh and Polina Mikhailova in five games (11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7); Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching needed the full seven games to end the hopes of Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching and Huang Yi-Hua (11-8, 11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 9-11, 9-11, 11-4).
At the semi-final stage of the Men’s Doubles event Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima meet Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Tang Peng; Alexei Liventsov and Mikhail Paikov face Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu.
Intriguing contests, it is the same in the Women’s Doubles event.
Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching play Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun. Yui Hamamoto and Hina Hayata meet colleagues Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato; thus a Japanese finalist is guaranteed.