By Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor and Neha Aggarwal
However, for Japan’s Yukiya Uda, the no.2 seed and Germany’s Tobias Hippler, the no.4 seed, progress to the last eight remains very much in the balance.
Both experienced surprise defeats. Yukiya Uda, after beating Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun, the no.9 seed (11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9), experienced a surprise reverse at the hands of Chinese Taipei’s Li Hsin-Yang, the no.8 seed (4-11, 11-9, 14-12, 11-4, 13-11).
“Honestly, before the match, I did not expect to win. My services were really good today, and I attacked well on the third balls. Yukiya had some good balls to finish off strong in many rallies, but he missed at many occasions. That made me very confident” – Li Hsin-Yang.
A shock win for Li Hsin-Yang, earlier it had been a shock defeat, he was beaten by the host nation’s in form Ronit Bhanja, the no.13 seed; a player who delighted in upsetting the order of merit.
He accounted for Li Hsin-Yang in a hard fought seven games duel (11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 4-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8), before causing yet another upset by overcoming Yanapong Panagitgun (11-7, 11-7, 11-13, 11-5, 11-7) to complete the day unbeaten.
“It was a quiet hard match. I was leading 2-0 but then I gave up three games in a row. I am glad that I won at the end. I was quiet aggressive today. His attack is so strong but Li Hsin-Yang had problems when I returned the balls with less spin. My aim was to be consistent on the table and that helped me win!” – Ronit Bhanja
In the remaining matches in the group, Li Hsin-Yang meets Yanapong Panagitgun; Yukiya Uda faces Ronit Bhanja.
The hopes Li Hsin-Yang to reserve a last eight place remain open, for colleague, Lai Chi-Chien, that possibility is even more assured.
Occupying the no.6 seeded position, after overcoming Qatar’s Nawaf Al-Malki, the no.16 seed (11-4, 11-9, 11-3, 11-6), he upset the order of merit by beating Germany’s Tobias Hippler, the no.4 seed (13-11, 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8).
Defeat but as with Yukiya Uda, a place in the last eight is still open for Tobias Hippler; in his opening contest he accounted for Bahrain’s Rashed Sanad, the no.11 seed (11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-8).
One win apiece for Tobias Hippler and Rashed Sanad; in the concluding group stage contests, Lai Chi-Chien meets Rashed Sanad, Tobias Hippler opposes Nawaf Al-Malki.
Players finishing in first and second places in each of the four groups advance to the last eight; the quarter-finals will be played on Friday 27th January.