by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
However for the player who has been an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles runner up on three occasions, reaching the final in 2012 in Russia, as well as in Poland in 2012 and 2013, the door is still open but can afford a hiccup.
In the opening match in the group, Diogo Chen was beaten in four straight games by Japan’s Yuki Hirano (11-5, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7); in order to secure top spot in the group, Zhou Yu must beat Yuki Hirano in straight games. Any other result and it is top spot for the younger brother of Sayaka Hirano.
Defeat for Zhou Yu but not for five other aspiring Chinese players required to compete in the qualification tournament.
Lin Gaoyuan, winner of the ATTU-ITTF Asian Cup in Ahmedabad two days ago, beat Frenchman Mehdi Bouloussa (11-7, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7) and is most certainly a major contender for the title. Likewise, Liang Jingkun overcame Germany’s Qiu Dang (12-10, 11-8, 11-6, 16-18, 11-4), whilst Xue Fei, runner up in the Boys’ Singles event at the 2015 World Junior Championships, also made the ideal start to his campaign, he accounted for Slovakia’s Kristian Kobes (11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 11-3).
Meanwhile, Wang Chuqin, the recently crowned Asian Junior Boys’ Singles champion, when he succeeded in the Korean city of Asan just over two months ago, also enjoyed opening match success. He beat Slovakia’s Marek Tutura (11-7, 11-9, 11-5, 11-6).
All are names to note but one name in particular of whom all should be aware is that of 15 year old Niu Guankai, he beat India’s Birdie Boro (11-6, 11-4, 11-5, 11-6); one year ago at the 2016 Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Bangkok, he won the Cadet Boys’ Singles title.
A great deal of water has passed under the bridge since that time but note the name of the player he beat in the final on that occasion, a certain Tomokazu Harimoto.