by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interview: Olalekan Okusan)
Kristin Silbereisen duly responded to local support to beat Charlotte Carey of Wales (11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7) but for both Nina Mittelham and Wang Yuan it was defeat; Nina Mittelham was beaten by Spain’s Maria Xiao (11-4, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9), Wang Yuan lost to Galia Dvorak (11-6, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9)
Local interest; for Mu Zi and Miu Hirano, the attention was somewhat different. Could Mu Zi repeat her efforts of two years earlier in Suzhou when she had started life in the qualification stage and had progressed to the semi-final round; could Miu Hirano maintain her present level?
The answer in both instances was in the affirmative.
Miu Hirano was simply too fast for Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike; a close first game, nerves quelled, the hurricane roared.
However, there was phlegmatic response from Olufunke Oshonaike, well aware that she had been beaten by one of sport’s current hottest properties; not an unusual experience for the reigning African champion. In Suzhou it was a first round exit at the hands of China’s Ding Ning!
“I have been so unlucky in the World Championship because I played Ding Ning in the first round of the 2015 edition in China. Today I had to play against the Asian champion, Miu Hirano. However, I can also consider myself fortunate because it is rare to play against these top players. It is has afforded an opportunity to show that I can play well against them. I have been able to prove that I can play against any player in the world and playing against Hirano today was a great chance. Generally making it to the main draw this year was a bit tougher because every player is now playing well, so for me making it again to the main draw this year is encouraging for me.” Olufunke Oshonaike
A close first game, it was somewhat the same for Mu Zi in opposition to the Ukraine defender, Ganna Gaponova who likewise had enjoyed a most successful time in Suzhou two years ago. Somewhat against expectations she had reached the third round of the Women’s Singles event.
In the opening two games she asked questions but as Mu Zi acclimatised and found a rhythm to her play, she imposed her authority on proceedings; a straight games verdict was the outcome (11-7, 11-9, 11-7, 11-1).