by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Sharath Kamal Achanta, the no.11 seed, confronts Paul Drinkhall, the no.6 seed; the evidence provided by the status in the draw, suggests that the Englishman starts as favourite but does home soil advantage and history advise otherwise?
In World ranking events, Sharath Kamal Achanta and Paul Drinkhall have met on five occasions. Paul Drinkhall won the first two when he succeeded on the ITTF World Tour in 2008 in Austria and two years later in the Men’s Team event at the Commonwealth Games. Now could that be a good omen for Paul Drinkhall? New Delhi was the home for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
It is a result of which Sharath Kamal Achanta is well aware.
“We have been competitors for a long time now. He beat me in New Delhi at the Commonwealth Games but the last few times that we have played, I have won. It’s going to be an interesting match, we are good friends too”, Sharath Kamal Achanta
However, since the New Delhi encounter, the next three meetings have all been won by Sharath Kamal Achanta. In 2012 he beat Paul Drinkhall on the ITTF World Tour in Hungary and at the Liebherr World Team Championships in Germany; meanwhile at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Sharath Kamal Achanta prevailed in their Men’s Singles quarter-final encounter.
An intriguing contest and intriguing contests face the Japanese trio with arguably Yuya Oshima, the no.5 seed, facing the toughest quarter-final challenge. He plays Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the top seed; likewise 13 year old Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.14 seed, faces an experienced European adversary. He confronts Austria’s 38 year old Robert Gardos.
According to seeding Yuya Oshima and Tomokazu Harimoto are not the favourites to progress but it is the converse situation for Koki Niwa; the no.3 seed, in the same half of the draw as Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Yuya Oshima, he confronts the one remaining qualifier, Hong Kong’s Jiang Tianyi.
Semi-finalists to be decided; in the Women’s Singles event two are already known. Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the top seed and Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, the no.4 seed, both in the top half of the draw, have already reserved penultimate round places.
In the lower half, as in the top half, Hong Kong is very much in evidence in the search for a last four place. Ng Wing Nam, the no.8 seed, faces Hungary’s Georgina Pota, the no.3 seed; qualifier Mak Tze Wing confronts Japan’s Sakura Mori, the no.6 seed.