by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
All suffered at the hands of Chinese adversaries. Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.3 seed, was the first member of the trio to depart; she was beaten by China’s Chen Xingtong (11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 12-10, 12-10). Later in the evening session of play, Miu Hirano, the no.5 seed, suffered defeat at the hands of Gu Yuting (11-13, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7); Mima Ito departed at the hands of Zhang Qiang (8-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7).
Furthermore, in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event there were more trials and tribulations for Japan at Chinese hands; Hitomi Sato, the no.8 seed, lost to Wang Manyu (11-2, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4).
Likewise, in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event there were troubled times for the Land of the Rising Sun. Koki Niwa, the no.2 seed, experienced defeat at the hands of Tristan Flore; Yuto Muramatsu, the no.8 seed, was beaten by Korea’s Cho Seungmin (11-6, 11-3, 10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 13-11), whilst Tomoakazu Harimoto, quarter-finalist at the recent Liebherr 2017 World Championships and the no.15 seed in Gold Coast, also departed at Korean hands. He lost to Lim Jonghoon (11-6, 11-3, 11-7, 11-6).
The saving grace for Japan emerged in the form of Masaki Yoshida, Saki Shibata, Maki Shiomi and Miyu Maeda.
Both Masaki Yoshida and Saki Shibata caused major upsets. In the opening round of the Men’s Singles event, Masaki Yoshida beat Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.3 seed (11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 5-11, 11-9, 11-7); at the same stage of the counterpart Women’s Singles competition, Saki Shibata overcame Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the no.2 seed (6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 11-6).
Similarly, in hard fought contests, Miyu Maeda accounted for Korea’s Jeon Jihee, the no.11 seed (11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-2, 13-11); Maki Shiomi overcame Singapore’s Zeng Jian, the no.12 seed (2-11, 11-5, 13-11, 7-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7).
Upsets of a major proportions; they rather overshadowed the surprises caused by England’s Paul Drinkhall alongside the Indian duo of Sanil Shetty and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.
Sanil Shetty beat Korea’s Jang Woojin, the no.13 seed (11-9, 3-11, 12-10, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8); Sathiyan Gnansekaran defeated Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the no.14 seed (11-6, 4-11, 1-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9), whilst Paul Drinkhall overcame Russia’s Alexander Shibaev, the no.11 seed (11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 3-11, 11-8, 11-7).
Defeat for leading names but certain notables did avoid opening round carnage. In the Men’s Singles event, Japan’s Jun Mizutani, the top seed, beat Korea’s Seo Hyundeok (11-9, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8); Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.4 seed, overcame Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting (11-9, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7).
Likewise, in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event, the Chinese duo of Zhu Yuling, the top seed and Chen Meng, the no.3 seed, both emerged successful. Zhu Yuling beat Korea’s Kim Kyungah (11-3, 11-6, 11-2, 11-8); Chen Meng overcame Chen Hsien-Tzu.
Meanwhile, in the opening round of the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles events; it was the antithesis of the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events, matters progressed according to seeding.
The top seeds, Jang Woojin and Park Ganghyeon, in the Men’s Doubles event, Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling in the Women’s Doubles, were not called to action; the second seeds in both instances were required; against Indian opposition, both enjoyed success.
In the opening round of the Men’s Doubles event, Chen Chien-An and Chiang Hung-Chieh beat India’s Amalraj Anthony and Harmeet Desai (5-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7); in the corresponding Women’s Doubles competition, Hina Hayata and Mima Ito overcame Manika Batra and Madhurika Patkar (11-8, 11-13, 11-3, 11-8).