by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Both face most creditable opponents in their opening round contests, players who negotiated the qualification tournament in style.
Tomokazu Harimoto opposes Korea’s Lim Jonghoon, the player who heads the ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles Standings; Miu Hirano confronts what could arguably be considered an even more daunting adversary. She faces China’s Gu Yuting, the winner of the Women’s Singles title at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games and crowned World Junior champion in Rabat, Morocco in 2013.
A testing adversary for Miu Hirano, it is exactly the same scenario for colleague Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.4 seed; she faces China’s Chen Xingtong, the winner earlier in the year in Hungary, in the opening round.
Furthermore, in recent times on the ITTF World Tour, Kasumi Ishikawa has not enjoyed the best of fortunes against Chinese adversaries; on home soil in Tokyo she was beaten in the opening round by Wang Manyu, more recently in Chengdu at the quarter-final stage by Liu Shiwen.
Notably in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event, Wang Manyu, the runner up earlier in the year in Qatar and a semi-finalist in Japan, could well once again upset the odds and cause Japan problems. She plays Hitomi Sato, the no.8 seed. Likewise, colleague, Hitomi Sato will need be vigilant; the no.7 seed, she opposes Zhang Qiang, also from China.
Testing opponents, for China’s Zhu Yuling, the top seed, the voice of experience awaits; she meets Korea’s Kim Kyungah. Somewhat differently, it is very much an in form player who awaits Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the no.2 seed. She opposes Japan’s Saki Shibata, the winner of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event; Chen Meng, the no.3 seed and also from China, confronts Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Hsien-Tu.
Meanwhile, in the Men’s Singles event, Japan’s Jun Mizutani, the top seed and defending champion confronts Korea’s talented but somewhat unpredictable Seo Hyundeok; colleague Koki Niwa, the no.2 seed, faces Frenchman, Tristan Flore.
Most worthy adversaries, it is the same for Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.3 seed as it is for Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.4 seed; Chuang Chih-Yuan meets Japan’s Masaki Yoshida, a quarter-finalist in China, Vladimir Samsonov opposes the impressive Liao Cheng-Ting, like Chuang Chih-Yuan from Chinese Taipei.
The first rounds of the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events, in addition to the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles will be played in entirety on Tuesday 4th June.