by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The 13 year old is one of five qualifiers to reach the second round of the Men’s Singles event and one of three from Japan; the others being colleagues Jin Ueda and Masaki Yoshida alongside Egypt’s Omar Assar and Korea’s Kim Donghyun.
Jin Ueda and Masaki Yoshida meet in round two; Omar Assar faces Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.7 seed, whilst Kim Donghyun opposes China’s Fan Zhendong, the no.2 seed.
One all Japanese clash and there is another, Koki Niwa, the no.8 seed, meets Yuto Muramatu, the no.16 seed, a contest where revenge is in the air; their most recent meeting on international soil, the 2015 ITTF World Tour Japan Open, resulted in success for Yuto Muramatsu.
Likewise, avenging defeat is a priority for Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.5 seed, he meets Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.15 seed; at last year’s Liebherr Men’s World Cup, Dimitrij Ovtcharov experienced defeat at the hands of the 25 year old Swede.
Redressing the balance, in the two remaining second round Men’s Singles encounters it is a case of repeating history. Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.6 seed, opposes Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira, the no.11 seed, a player he has met five times internationally and has always emerged the winner.
Meanwhile, for the host nation’s Ma Long, the top seed, an adversary against whom he has enjoyed success awaits. He confronts Japan’s Yuya Oshima, the no.14 seed and will be hoping for a more comfortable passage than when they last met. They confronted each other at the 2015 ITTF World Tour China Open and Ma Long nearly came to grief; he needed the full seven games to ensure victory.
Five qualifiers through to the Men’s Singles second round, in the counterpart Women’s Singles event it is just two in number; in the second round they face each other. China’s Sun Yingsha opposes Sakura Mori and seeks to continue her unbeaten run which started in Tokyo on Wednesday 14th June; it is now eight matches in a row without defeat.
Notably, Sakura Mori is one of six Japanese players through the round two. Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.6 seed, faces Germany’s Shan Xiaona, the no.12 seed, a player she has met on five previous occasions in world ranking events and has won all five meetings, Miu Hirano, the no.7 seed, tackles the defensive skills extolled by Li Jie of the Netherlands, the no.16 seed.
Two years ago on the ITTF World Tour in Hungary, Miu Hirano was beaten by Li Jie but since that date, a great deal of water has passed under the bridge; notably last week in Tokyo, Miu Hirano demonstrated her liking for defenders. In the first round of the Women’s Singles events she overcame Korea’s Suh Hyowon in four straight games.
Somewhat conversely the remaining members of the Japanese contingent in the second round of the Women’s Singles event, face uphill tasks, they confront higher rated adversaries, China awaits. Hitomi Sato, the no.9 seed, opposes Chen Meng, the no.5 seed; Hina Hayata, the no.13 seed, faces Liu Shiwen, the no.2 with Mima Ito having the most daunting task of all. The no.9 seed, she plays Ding Ning, the top seed.
Similarly, a daunting Chinese adversary lies ahead for Korea’s Jeon Jihee, the no.14 seed; she confronts Zhu Yuling.
National pride at stake, there is one national association already guaranteed a quarter-final Women’s Singles place, Singapore can relax. Feng Tianwei, the no.4 seed, plays Zeng Jian, the no.15 seed.
Play in the second round of the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events will be played to a conclusion.