by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Defeat for Maharu Yoshimura but he was the only major casualty.
In the Men’s Singles event, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira, the respective top two seeds, both reserved quarter-final places at the expense of qualifiers.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov overcame Sweden’s Elias Ranefur in six games (8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-8, 11-9); in one game less Kenta Matsudaira accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Peng Wang-Wei (11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8). Defeat for Peng Wang-Wei, there was also defeat for Belgium’s Cédric Nuytinck; he was beaten by Jin Ueda, the no.5 seed (11-7, 11-7, 12-10, 7-11, 11-8).
The end result is that the lower half of the Men’s Singles draw now comprises entirely Japanese players.
Hard fought contests for the leading names but there were no great moments of drama; that was not the case for Quadri Aruna the no.3 seed. He emerged successful but he was required to recover from a three games to one deficit to achieve what no other player from beyond Japanese shores had been able to achieve in the whole tournament.
He beat a Japanese adversary; he accounted for Yuto Kizukuri by the very narrowest of seven games margins (9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-9). Thus he reversed the decision of earlier in the year in Zagreb, when at the same stage of proceedings, he had experienced a straight games defeat when facing the Japanese teenager.
Similarly, in the Women’s Singles event, the leading names imposed authority.
Additional to Kasumi Ishikawa, Mima Ito, the no.2 seed, beat Saki Shibata, the no.13 seed (11-3, 12-10, 3-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5); Hitomi Sato, the no.3 seed, accounted for Yui Hamamoto, the no.10 seed (11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9).
Success for the top three seeds in the second round of the Women’s Singles event and there was success for the next in line. One year ago in Panagyurishte, in the very same round, Honoka Hashimoto had beaten Marina Matsuzawa by the very narrowest of seven game margins. Now one year later she won again but this time in less dramatic fashion; she prevailed in four straight games (11-8, 13-11, 11-5, 11-5).
The outcome of the day’s play is that Japan is guaranteed places in all four finals.
At the semi-final stage of the Men’s Doubles event, Jin Ueda and Maharu Yoshimura, the top seeds, beat Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi, the no.6 seeds (11-9, 5-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-6). They now face India’s Soumyajit Ghosh and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the no.5 seeds in the final.
In the counterpart Women’s Doubles competition, Kasumi Ishikawa and Mima Ito, the no.4 seeds, upset the pecking order by overcoming colleagues, Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, the top seeds, in the penultimate round (8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8). They oppose the combination of Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm and Hungary’s Georgina Pota, the no.2 seeds, in the title decider.
The finals of the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles events will be played on Sunday 20th August; the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles competitions on Saturday 19th August.