by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Occupying the no.16 seeded position in Men’s Singles event he faces the more experienced 34 year old Gao Ning; it will be the second time they have met in a World Ranking event.
In 2013, they confronted each other on the ITTF World Tour in Qatar; Gao Ning won in five games. Now four years later times have changed but will the outcome be different?
A tough test for Jonathan Groth but surely the seed with the toughest test is Germany’s Ruwen Filus, the no.15 seed.He confronts Korea’s Jang Sangeun, the player who one week ago beat China’s seemingly indestructible Ma Long at the Seamaster 2017 Asian Championships in Wuxi.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira and Koki Niwa, alongside Frenchman Simon Gauzy confront opponents against whom they have experienced problems in the past.
Kenta Matsudaira, the no.8 seed, faces Korea’s Jang Woojin in the battle of the former World Junior champions; on their one previous meeting on the ITTF World Tour, Jang Woojin won in Austria in 2015.
It is a similar situation for Koki Niwa, the no.4 seed, who also faces a Korean adversary in the guise of Cho Seungmin; at the 2014 ITTF World Tour Korean Open Cho Seungmin beat Koki Niwa in a full distance seven games duel.
However, if past meetings are the judge; then Simon Gauzy, the no.6 seed, has the biggest problem. He faces Koki Niwa’s compatriot, Masataka Morizono. On the ITTF World Tour they have met twice, Masataka Morizono has won on both occasions; he prevailed in 2013 in Korea, the following year in the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event; for Singapore’s Yu Mengyu, making a return to international duty, having been absent from the scene since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, she faces a daunting opponent, a player in form. The no.6 seed, she confronts Minami Ando, the winner one day earlier of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event.
Likewise, there is a challenge for Minami Ando’s colleague, Hitomi Sato, the no.10 seed; in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event, she opposes Korea’s Choi Hyojoo, the player against whom she experienced defeat last year on the ITTF World Tour in Austria.
A test for Hitomi Sato; likewise colleague Sakura Mori, the no.16 seed, confronts an opponent who has caused her past problems; she plays Romania’s Bernadette Szocs. The Romanian beat Sakura Mori on their one previous international meeting when they opposed each other in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event on the 2015 ITTF World Tour in Japan.