by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Dimitrij Ovtcharov brought the day to a conclusion by recovering from a three games to one deficit to beat Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, the no.3 seed, in a seven games semi-final duel (11-6, 9-11, 8-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6), a contest where the quality of the rallies kept the crowd spellbound.
The duel was in stark contrast to the last eight contest involving Dimitrij Ovtcharov; facing Japan’s Mizuki Oikawa, Dimitrij Ovtcharov won the first game 11-6 before his adversary withdrew, nursing a shoulder injury.
Somewhat conversely, Quadri Aruna was involved in hard fought duel against Japan’s Asuka Machi; an engagement which he won in five games (11-3, 6-11, 11-3, 12-10, 11-6), the crucial stage being the fourth game when Quadri Aruna trailed 7-10 before mounting a recovery to win the next five points.
Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw it was somewhat family revenge. After beating colleague Jin Ueda, the no.5 seed, at the quarter-final stage (11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-5); Kenta Matsudaira overcame Kenta Tazoe, also from Japan (11-7, 11-4, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10). One round earlier, Kenta Tazoe had withstood a brave recovery by Kenta Matsudaira’s elder brother, Kenji Matsudaira, to eventually emerge successful by the very narrowest of seven game margins (11-9, 11-7, 13-11, 8-11, 10-12, 11-13, 12-10).
Progress very much according to status in the Men’s Singles event; in the Women’s Singles competition, in all Japanese quarter-finals, there were results that raised the eyebrows.
Miyu Kato, the no.8 seed, beat Hitomi Sato, the no.3 seed (12-10, 10-12, 11-1, 11-9, 11-7); Honoka Hashimoto, the no.4 seed, overcame Hina Hayata, the no.6 seed (11-6, 13-11, 11-8, 7-11, 16-14). The latter result may not appear an upset but on the 2016 ITTF World Tour, Hina Hayata and Honoka Hashimoto had met four times; Hina Hayata had won all four encounters and only dropped one solitary individual game!
Notable wins but progress was short-lived. At the semi-final stage, Miyu Kato was beaten by Kasumi Ishikawa (14-16, 11-8, 11-1, 4-11, 11-5, 13-11); Honoka Hashimoto suffered at the hands of Mima Ito (11-3, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8).
Earlier in the quarter-finals, Kasumi Ishikawa had beaten qualifier Asuka Sasao (11-7, 11-9, 14-12, 11-9); Mima Ito had overcome Sakua Mori, the no.5 seed (11-5, 11-3, 11-2, 11-1).