by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In the top half of the draw in the Men’s Singles event, the quarter-finalists are known. China’s Ma Long, the top seed, meets Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.9 seed; the winner confronts either Xu Xin or Fang Bo.
Xu Xin is the no.3 seed, Fang Bo the no.10 seed; status favours Xu Xin but rankings when colleagues are in opposition count for nought. Moreover, Fang Bo has beaten Xu Xin on three of their last four outings in world ranking events, most recently he prevailed earlier this year in Qatar.
Undoubtedly, in the lower half of the draw, local eyes focus on Jun Mizutani, the no.4 seed; in round two he plays Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.15 seed, the winner having the daunting proposition of facing either Korea’s Lee Sangsu, the no.12 seed or Chinese qualifier, Lin Guoyuan, both players in form at the recent Liebherr 2017 World Championships.
Also, in the same half of the draw and the same quarter are China’s Fan Zhendong, the no.2 seed and Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.5 seed; in the second round both face qualifiers. Wong Chun Ting opposes Japan’s Takuya Jin; Fan Zhendong confronts Frenchman, Emmanuel Lebesson, the reigning European champion.
Meanwhile, in the counterpart Women’s Singles quarter-final contests the intriguing duel is that between China’s Wang Manyu, the opening round victor over Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.3 seed and Mima Ito, the no.8 seed, also from Japan. A semi-final class between two Chinese teenagers who had to negotiate the qualification stage is not out of the question. In the same half of the draw as Mima Ito and Wang Manyu, Sung Yingsha confronts Germany, Shan Xiaona, the no.14 seed.
Intriguing contests, it is the same in the lower half of the Women’s Singles draw, there could be a repeat of the recent Seamaster 2017 Asian Games Women’s Singles final. In round two China’s Chen Meng, the no.2 seed, faces Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun; Japan’s Miu Hirano, the no.5 seed, confronts Korea’s Jeon Jihee, the no.12 seed. The winners meet in the quarter-final round.
Awaiting in the semi-finals, status predicts either Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.4 seed, or Germany’s Han Ying the no.6 seed. In round two, Cheng I-Ching faces Portuguese qualifier, Fu Yu; Han Ying opposes Singapore’s Zeng Jian, the no.13 seed.
Nothing is certain but one fact is certain in the Men’s Doubles event; Japan meets China.
At the semi-final stage Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima, the top seeds meet Japanese colleagues Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura, the no.6 seeds; in the lower half of the draw Ma Long and Xu Xin, the no.2 seeds, face qualifiers Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan.
Similarly in the Women’s Doubles event there is strong Chinese and Japanese interest.
In the penultimate round Japan’s top seeded Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato play Chinese qualifiers Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha; in the opposite half of the draw, Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, the no.2 seeds, meet Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng I-Ching, the no.7 seeds.