by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Russia’s Kirill Skachkov is the opening round opponent for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, a player who in junior days did cause the German problems but at senior level has not held the sway.
Notably at international level, Dimitrij Ovtcharov has won their most recent encounters; in both 2013 and 2015 he prevailed on the GAC Group ITTF World Tour in Doha.
Undoubtedly, the first match is always difficult when facing players accustomed the surroundings; testing first round opponents await Kenta Matsudaira, Quadri Aruna and Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura. The Czech Republic’s Tomas Tregler is the first round adversary for Kenta Matsudaira; for Quadri Aruna and Maharu Yoshimura, French adversaries await. Quadri Aruna meets Can Akkuzu, Maharu Yoshimura opposes Enzo Angles.
Japanese players very much in evidence and could they prove the players to cause a first round upset? Yuto Kizukuri and Asuka Machi, the top two rated duo in the Men’s Singles qualification stage, duly topped their groups without alarm, whilst Mizuki Oikawa won the Under 21 Men’s Singles event.
In the opening round of the Men’s Singles event, Yuto Kizukuri meets India’s Soumyajit Ghosh, the no.13 seed; Asuka Machi confronts England’s Paul Drinkhall, the no.6 seed; whilst Mizuki Oikawa faces Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic, the no.8 seed.
Similarly, Mizuki Morizono, the Under 21 Women’s Singles winner, could well upset the order of merit. In the opening round, she faces the host nation’s Maria Yuvkova, the no.16 seed.
A tough test ahead for Maria Yuvkova; it is very much the same for the leading name in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event.
Kasumi Ishikawa opposes the Czech Republic’s Iveta Vacenovska, a player against whom she needed the full five games to secure victory at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships and in earlier times has enjoyed success when facing the Japanese star.
Meanwhile, Mima Ito faces the in-form Emina Hadziahmetovic, a surprise group winner; Hitomi Sato confronts Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chia-Hsun, Honoka Hashimoto faces Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya.
Play commences at 10.00am on Thursday 17th August with the Women’s Doubles event followed by the Men’s Doubles; Honoko Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato occupy the top seeded position in the former, in the latter it is Japanese colleagues Jin Ueda and Maharu Yoshimura.