by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications
Timo Boll, now 36 years old, is the most senior player in the Men’s Singles event, he is some 11 days older than colleague Bastian Steger and four weeks older than Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan; they are the three players on duty born in 1981 and all disappeared in round one.
Earlier in the day, Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.8 seed, had been beaten by the host nation’s Jin Ueda (11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6); whilst as the second half of the draw advanced, Bastian Steger also experienced defeat at Japanese hands. He was beaten by Jun Mizutani, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 12-10).
“I have been sick after the World Championships. I was tired, not fresh at all. I had to fight against myself to keep my concentration high to push myself to move a little bit better but I lost the fight.” Timo Boll
Meanwhile, in addition to Timo Boll and Chuang Chih-Yuan, four further seeds departed in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event.
Austria’s Stefan Fegerl, the no.13 seed, also suffered at Chinese hands, he was beaten by Liang Jingkun (11-7, 11-7, 13-15, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4). Similarly, the host nation’s Yuya Oshima, the no.14 seed, departed at the hands of Frenchman, Emmanuel Lebesson, the reigning European champion (11-5, 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10); whilst Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit ended the hopes of Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the no.16 seed (7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 6-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-4).
Surprises but not where the very leading names were concerned; the Chinese trio of Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin all recorded impressive wins. China’s Ma Long, the top seed, beat Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura (18-16, 11-7, 11-2, 11-2), Fan Zhendong accounted for Masaki Yoshida, also from Japan (12-10, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9) whilst Xu Xin halted Swedish hopes. He overcame Mattias Karlsson (11-3, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7).
Likewise, in addition to Jun Mizutani, there was success for Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.5 seed, China’s Fang Bo, the no.7 seed and Korea’s Lee Sangsu who had given a stunning performance at the recent Liebherr 2017 World Championships to end matters with a bronze medal.
Wong Chun Ting accounted for Japan’s Takuya Jin (11-5, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10), whilst Fang Bo recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat Kazuhiro Yoshimura, likewise from Japan in the closest match of the round (8-11, 9-11, 5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7, 14-12). Not to be outdone, Lee Sangsu, the no.12 seed, overcame Egypt’s Omar Assar (4-11, 11-7, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9).
Play continues later in the day in round two.