by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It was a vital result for India; all other medal hopes had earlier disappeared.
Host nation pairs in both the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles event had departed the previous day; in the Women’s Singles event no Indian player had reserved a quarter-final place.
Equally, early in the second round of the Men’s Singles event Harmeet Desai had been beaten by Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.3 seed (14-16, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4, 11-9); Austria’s Robert Gardos, the no.8 seed, had ended the adventures of Sanil Shetty (11-9, 9-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7).
Sharath Kamal Achanta duly met the challenge in what the seeding advised was an upset but arguably technique suggested otherwise; Yuto Muramatsu is an most accomplished defensive player but against the mighty forehand of India’s top player, coping with such power is most difficult.
“I don’t have a very strong track record against defenders but today I was prepared to be more aggressive with my forehand attack. I should have taken a “Time Out” in the fourth game which I lost. But I am glad I wrapped up the match four-one”, Sharath Kamal Achanta
An upset depending on your point of view and perhaps a similar argument could be adopted in the one further seeding upset in what proved closest match in the second round of the Men’s Singles event.
Hong Kong’s Jiang Tianyi who had been required to compete in the qualification tournament, accounted for Ricardo Walther, the no.12 seed (11-13, 7-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 11-9, 14-12). A close call between two very well matched players, both having won ITTF World Men’s Singles titles; Jiang Tianyi won in Brazil in 2008 and in Hungary in 2015. One year earlier, in 2014, Ricardo Walther had succeeded in Croatia.
Victory for Jiang Tianyi but he was the only qualifier to negotiate the second round of the Men’s Singles event. In addition to Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty, Portugal’s João Geraldo was beaten by Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the top seed (11-3, 11-3, 11-5, 11-4), Asuka Sakai experienced defeat at the hands of Japanese colleague, Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.14 seed (11-9, 11-7, 13-15, 11-7, 11-13, 11-7).
Success for Tomokazu Harimoto in an all Japanese clash, it was the same for Yuya Oshima; the no.5 seed, he beat colleague and doubles partner, Masataka Morizono, the no.9 seed, in six games (11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8).
A six games win for Yuya Oshima; for England’s Paul Drinkhall in the one remaining second round Men’s Singles contest, it was success in five games. The no.6 seed, he overcame Germany’s Ruwen Filus (11-4, 16-14, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5).
At the quarter-final stage Dimitrij Ovtcharov meets Yuya Oshima, Jiang Tianyi opposes Koki Niwa; in the opposite half of the draw it is Sharath Kamal Achanta in opposition to Paul Drinkhall, Robert Gardos against Tomokazu Harimoto.