by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Silver medallist earlier this year in Bulgaria, he is a member of a strong Japanese challenge for honours; likewise Koki Niwa and Yuya Oshima are also on duty.
Koki Niwa who finished in eighth place at the recent ATTU-ITTF Asian Cup in Ahmedabad and was a semi-finalist at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Indian Open earlier in the year, is the no.2 seed; Yuya Oshima is the no.8 seed. Notably in India, Australia and China, Yuya Oshima was a quarter-finalist.
The winner last year, Kenta Matsudaira is one of two former champions on duty; China’s Fang Bo who won in 2013 is the no.3 seed. He heads the Chinese challenge and lines up alongside Yan An, the winner earlier this year in Hungary; Yan An is the no.7 seed.
No doubt for both Fang Bo and Yan An they have points to prove; neither has yet been able to establish themselves amongst the Chinese national team players who are consistently selected for the major events. Although the runner up in the Men’s Singles event at the 2015 World Championships in Suzhou, more recently in Düsseldorf he played only in the Mixed Doubles. Meanwhile, Yan An was present in the Germany city but as practice partner not player.
However, if there is one player who has a point to prove and must be hurting from his most recent performance, it is Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the top seed. Semi-finalist earlier on the year on the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour in China, the recent ATTU-ITTF Asian Cup was a total disaster. The no.2 seed he finished in last place in his group losing to Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan,, Korea’s Jeong Sangeun and Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan.
An Asian entry of note, for Europe, Frenchman Simon Gauzy and Portugal’s Marcos Freitas are the leading names.
Both have been embroiled in the recent Liebherr 2017 European Team Championships and both have performed creditably on this year’s Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour; Simon Gauzy was the runner up in Australia, Marcos Freitas was a quarter-finalist in Qatar and Korea.
In Linz, Simon Gauzy is the no.4 seed; Marcos Freitas is next in line.