by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Cho Seungmin meets top seed Japan’s Jun Mizutani. The latter with eight ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles to his credit and twice successful at the Grand Finals starts as the clear favourite.
At the semi-final stage, the winner confronts either Misaki Yoshida or Frenchman Simon Gauzy, the no.6 seed; the balance is arguably in favour of Simon Gauzy having beaten Masaki Yoshida in their two most recent meetings on the ITTF World Tour. He won in the Czech Republic in both 2014 and 2015.
However, Masaki Yoshida having beaten both Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.3 seed and Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson, the no.9 seed, is in a rich vein of form.
An intriguing contest, it is the same in the lower half of the draw. Paul Drinkhall faces Yuya Oshima, like Misaki Yoshida from Japan and the no.10 seed; both players have excelled in Gold Coast and notably both have ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles to their credit. Paul Drinkhall won in Spain in 2014; Yuya Oshima succeeded in the Philippines in 2015 and last year in Sweden.
The duel between Paul Drinkhall and Yuya Oshima is perhaps too close to call; if experience is the marker, then in the one remaining quarter-final duel, the vote goes to Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.4 seed. Likewise, he faces a Japanese adversary; he confronts Kenta Matsudaira, the no.7 seed.
Pedigree in favour of Vladimir Samsonov but on their most recent meeting on the ITTF World Tour in 2015 in Germany, experience was tested to the very limit; also, let us not forget the fourth round of the Men’s Singles event at the Liebherr 2013 World Championships in Paris. On that occasion Kenta Matsudaira won in seven games.
Meanwhile, in the Women’s Singles event, where only two seeded players remain and six of the eight quarter-finalists are from China, logic suggests that Zhu Yuling, the top seed, will meet Cheng Meng, the no.3 seed in the final.
Zhu Yuling opposes Japan’s Maki Shiomi at the quarter-final stage; the winner confronting either Wang Manyu or Chen Xingtong both players who have impressed in this year’s Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour. Wang Manyu was the runner up in Qatar and a semi-finalist in Japan; Chen Xingtong won in Hungary.
Contests between players from the same national association are always difficult to predict but in the lower half of the draw, status and experience suggests that Chen Meng should prove too strong for Zhang Qiang.
The winner meets either China’s Gu Yuting or Japan’s Saki Shibata; Gu Yuting having ousted the latter’s colleague, Miu Hirano, in the opening round starts as the favourite.