by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Upsets, only surprises when current statistical information is considered; undoubtedly had they been subjected to international play in the past year and their global standing not lapsed, all would surely be named in the top 20 of the current Men’s World Rankings.
All are capable of reaching the final with Shang Kun appearing to be the player who is warming to the task but in the round of the last eight he faces the voice of experience. He confronts the top seed, the man who with 26 titles to his name, has won more ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles events than any other. He faces Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus.
The two are in the same half of the draw as Lin Gaoyuan, who likewise faces know-how; he confronts Korea’s Joo Saehyuk, the no.4 seed.
Intriguing duels, it is the same in the lower half of the draw where eyes are not only on China, they are focused on the continent of Africa. Yan An meets compatriot and no.3 seed, Fang Bo; Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, the no.8 seed, faces German qualifier, Ruwen Filus, the first round winner against Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.2 seed.
Similarly, in the Women’s Singles event, there are two qualifiers on quarter-final duty.
China’s Li Jiayi and Britt Eerland, both making their first ever appearance in an ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles quarter-final, face adversaries who have secured Tour titles.
Li Jiayi opposes the host nation’s Georgina Pota, the no.5 seed and the winner in Belgium in both 2014 and 2016; Britt Eerland faces Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, the no.11 seed, the champion in Croatia in 2014 and last year in the Czech Republic.
Britt Eerland and Yang Xiaoxin appear in the top half of the draw; the winner scheduled to meet the victor of the all Chinese contest between Chen Meng, the top seed and Chen Xingtong, the no.14 seed.
Meanwhile in the lower half of the draw; Wen Jia, the no.10 seed or Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko, the no.13 seed, awaits Georgina Pota or Li Jiayi.
The quarter-finals and semi-finals of both the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events will be played on the penultimate day of action, the concluding day, Sunday 22nd January is reserved only for the finals.