by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Playing in her trademark controlled manner, Chen Szu-Yu ended the hopes of the host nation; she accounted for fellow qualifier, Choi Hyojoo (9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9).
Defeat for Japan but title hopes in the Women’s Singles event remain very much alive. In the opposite half of the draw, in all Japanese affair, Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.2 seed, meets Hina Hayata, the no.5 seed; whilst Miu Hirano, the no.5 seed, faces Singapore’s Zeng Jian, the no.13 seed.
On the ITTF World Tour in 2014 in Russia, Kasumi Ishikawa did beat Hina Hayata but the result has little bearing on today’s contest; at the time Hina Hayata was only 14 years old.
Equally in the one previous meeting between Zeng Jian and Miu Hirano the verdict went in favour of the Singaporean; Zeng Jian prevailed when they confronted each other in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event at the 2016 ITTF World Tour German Open. However, considering the rich vein of form currently being enjoyed by Miu Hirano, any past result counts for nought.
Japan very much in evidence with Women’s Singles semi-final places at stake; it is the same in the Men’s Singles event where Germany provides the quarter-final opposition. In the same half of the draw Maharu Yoshimura, the no.12 seed, meets qualifier Ricardo Walther; Kenta Matsudaira, the no.8 seed, confronts Timo Boll.
It is now some time since Kenta Matsudaira and Timo Boll met on the ITTF World Tour; the last time was in England in 2009 when Timo Boll prevailed; however, as with Hina Hayata, age must be considered. Timo Boll is ten years older than Kenta Matsudaira, in 2009 Kenta Matsudaira was 18 years old.
Timo Boll may well start as favourite but a great deal of water has flowed under the bridge since the meeting in England. However when considering Maharu Yoshimura and Ricardo Walther much less water has ebbed and flowed. They met just over five months ago on the ITTF World Tour in Austria; notably Ricardo Walther won in four straight games.
Germany in evidence in the top half of the Men’s Singles quarter-final draw and also in the lower half where Patrick Franziska opposes Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.14 seed.
Status suggests than Kristian Karlsson may be the favourite with Patrick Franziska having been required to compete in the qualification tournament; however, on the their most recent ITTF World Tour meeting it was Patrick Franziska who emerged successful. He overcame the Swede by the very narrowest of margins in the final preliminary round of the Men’s Singles event at the 2015 German Open.
Awaiting the winner at the semi-final stage is either, Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.5 seed, or the host nation’s Lim Jonghoon.
Seeding favours Lim Jonghoon but having won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title, beaten Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.2 seed and with home crowd support, the 20 year old is a prodigious opponent.
Play will conclude on the penultimate day of action with the finalists in both the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events decided.