by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Now, following the draw for the Men’s Doubles event at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships, which commence in Düsseldorf on Monday 29th May, Timo Boll and Ma Long face a very similar problem once again.
Potentially, they could well meet Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, the no.3 seeds, in the third round; it will take a quite considerable performance for such a scenario not to accrue.
In the opening round Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin meet Croatia’s Frane Kojic and Tomislav Pucar with Frenchmen Tristan Flore and Emmanuel Lebesson the possible second round opponents. Meanwhile, Timo Boll and Ma Long confront the Hungarian formation of Tamas Lakatos and Krisztian Nagy in their initial encounter; India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran may well lie in wait.
The opening round opponents for Tristan Flore and Emmannuel Lebesson, as well as for Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will not be known until the qualification stage of proceedings has been concluded.
However, whatever the outcome; there will be no all-Chinese final. No players appear in the colours of China in the top half of the draw.
Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima head the list; they are in the same quarter of the draw as Russia’s Alexey Liventsov and Mikhail Paikov, the no.8 seeds. Also in the top half of the draw, Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu, the no.4 seeds, appear in the same quarter as Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Gustavo Tsuboi, the no.5 seeds.
In the opposite half of the draw, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin are in the same quarter as Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting, the no.7 seeds; for Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.2 seeds, they have a potential quarter-final meeting with Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson and Mattias Karlsson, the no.8 seeds.
Crystal ball gazing, if Patrick Franziska and Jonathan Groth can justify their seeded place and reach the semi-final; maybe Timo Boll and Ma Long might await?
A dilemma for the German crowd.