by Wade Townsend
Pass mark for Japan
Japan has secured 10 out of 16 places left in the Women’s Singles draw. However, Sofia Polcanova held off the attack of Saki Shibata to stop Japan improving their grade in Olomouc. It was destined to be a close match between the no.14 and no.16 seed, and the Austrian defended her slightly superior seeding to win 11-9 in the seventh game to take spot in the next round.
The award for most valuable student for Japan had to be Miyu Maeda as exemplified the depth of table tennis in team, coming out on top over Germany’s Petrissa Solja, the no.6 seed, winning in four straight games.
Meanwhile the no.7 seed also was knocked out in the first round. This time however it wasn’t the Japanese contingent upsetting the odds, instead it was Chinese Taipei’s Huang Yi-Hua who defeated Elizabeta Samara in four straight games. However, to say it was in straight games is probably disingenuous. The actual scoreline was far closer than the game count suggests; 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 15-13.
A one in three chance
A third of the direct qualifiers tumbled out of the event in the first round of the Men’s Singles on the opening day of the main event in Olomouc.
Jin Ueda caused the biggest upset in the last 32 as he defeated no.3 seed Simon Gauzy in five games. Ueda has had a consistent year so far in 2017, with a tour title to his name plus some deep runs. He should be looking for a semi-final berth now that he has stolen the Frenchman’s draw.
The next highest seed to fall was at the hands of a less familiar face on the tour. Fang Yinichi, who has experience playing league matches in Chinese league, was dominant over Austria’s Stefan Fegerl. The no.6 seed couldn’t find a way to get a game on the board and fell 4-0 to Fang.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s Anton Kallberg dismissed defence and booked a round of 16 place by taking down defending champion Yuto Muramatsu in straight games. The Japanese art of defence is still looking for its renaissance.
Mixed nation sensations
There are seven mixed nation pairings in the doubles events in Olomouc, and they had a 100% success rate. There is a minor caveat however that the Barbora Alazova and Hana Matelova did also beat a mixed nation pair on their way to the next round, but other than that technicality, doubles without borders is proving successful at the Czech Open.
It wasn’t complete sailing for all the seeds in their opening matches. Iran’s Nima Alamian and Noshad Alamiyan notched up a straight games win over the no.3 seeds from Russia Alexey Livenstov and Mikhail Paikov. However, Japanese duo and no.2 seeds Jin Ueda and Maharu Yoshimura took down the dangerous Austrian combination of Robert Gardos and Daniel Habesohn.
Checkout the full results from Day One’s action here.