by Simon Daish
One of the biggest upsets of the day came in the Women’s Singles event at the Round of 64 stage, where top seed Hitomi Sato exited to Park Joohyun.
Japan’s Hitomi Sato, who had emerged successful in the Women’s Singles competition at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments prior to the event in Zagreb, struggled to cope with Park Joohyun’s game as the Korea Republic representative stormed to a straight games victory (11-9, 11-1, 11-7, 11-6).
Park Joohyun then continued her positive run in the category with a win against fellow compatriot Lee Yujin in the Round of 32 (11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 14-12, 8-11, 11-9) to set up a tie with the no.29 seed Chantal Mantz.
More high-profile eliminations followed with the third seed Elizabeta Samara missing out to Tamolwan Khetkhuan (14-12, 7-11, 16-14, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9), while Maria Dolgikh, seeded ninth, was unable to prevent Norway’s Ma Wenting from prevailing in their match (11-13, 11-13, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 9-11).
The shock defeats weren’t just limited to the Women’s Singles competition as the Men’s Singles draw also produced some eye-catching results.
Quadri Aruna is often heralded as one of Africa’s highest rated athletes in the sport, but the Nigerian was left disappointed in the Round of 32 in Zagreb as the no.3 seed lost out to Japan’s Yuto Kizukuri by a 0-4 scoreline (5-11, 10-12, 15-13, 11-9).
Croatian table tennis fans endured a mixed day of emotions as the positive outcome in Tomislav Pucar’s encounter against Dimitrij Prokopcov (9-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-7, 11-6) was somewhat undone with the fourth seed Andrej Gacina losing out to Germany’s Wang Xi (11-6, 7-11, 12-14, 12-14, 7-11) as the host nation was reduced to one representative remaining in the category.
There was also an all-English battle between the eighth seed Liam Pitchford and the no.32 seed Samuel Walker, and in a highly entertaining duel it was the latter player who came out on top across seven games (11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 14-12) to book his place in the last 16.
Saki Shibata, who was named as the top seed for the Under 21 Women’s Singles tournament, won’t be lifting trophy after she was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Miyuu Kihara (9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 10-12, 9-11) while Adriana Díaz, Ji Eunchae and Adina Diaconu all progressed through to the semi-finals.
Over in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event Kirill Gerassimenko, Tomaš Polansky and Yuto Kizukuri negotiated their respective last eight encounters and the no.24 seed Koyo Kanamitsu is also through to the semi-finals following his seven games triumph over the no.14 seed Takuto Izumo (11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6).