by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Furthermore, could it be a bonus for the star names? They say the first match is often the hardest; arguably it is even harder when facing an adversary who has completed two or three qualification matches and is warmed to the task, hungry to cause an upset.
In Ahmedabad, all start on the same footing; all play in the group stage; four players in each group.
Immediately into the arena at 10.00am is China’s Zhu Yuling, the top seed, she faces Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, whilst in the same group, Japan’s Miu Hirano on whom many eyes are focused, confronts Singapore’s Yu Mengyu.
At the same time, China’s Liu Shiwen, the no.2 seed, opposes Korea’s Yang Haeun; whilst in the corresponding contest, it is Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching against Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching.
One series of Women’s matches completed, next into the spotlight arrives Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.3 seed, she faces Korea’s Suh Hyowon; in the same group the opening series of exchanges witnesses Singapore’s Feng Tianwei in opposition to Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu.
The first series of Women’s matches over, attention turns to their male counterparts. Scheduled for 11.00am China’s Fan Zhendong, the top seed, meets Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An; in the same group Japan’s Koki Niwa confronts Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit. Similarly Wong Chun Ting, also from Hong Kong and the no.2 seed, plays Korea’s Jeong Sangeun; Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan draes swords with Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan.
Two groups in the Men’s event completed; one more follows. Japan’s Jun Mizutani plies his skills against China’s Lin Gaoyuan, Korea’s Lee Sangsu faces the host nation’s hero, Sharath Kamal Achanta
In each event, there is a fourth group which comprises representatives from south east Asia, east Asia, mid Asia and west Asia. Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut, India’s Manika Batra, Qatar’s Aia Mohamed and Iran’s Neda Shahsavari form the group in the Women’s event; in the Men’s event, it is India’s Harmeet Desai, Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul, Iran’s Nima Alamian and Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Al-Abbad.
Players finishing in the top two places in each of the first three groups in both the Men’s and Women’s events, advance to the quarter-finals; players concluding matters in third places in each of the first three groups plus the winner of the fourth group contest a preliminary round. The winners advance to the quarter-finals.
The matches in the group stage will be played to a conclusion on the opening day, the preliminary round matches will commence the second day of play.
All matches in the group qualification phase and preliminary round will be best of five games.