by Simon Daish
Unseeded Duo Take The Spotlight
Omar Assar surely contributed the biggest shock of the day, defeating the no.1 seed Wong Chun Ting in the opening round of the Men’s Singles main draw.
Egyptian star Omar Assar saw off his opponent from Hong Kong across five games (11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9, 12-10) to book a meeting with Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson in the next stage of the competition.
Another dramatic upset came courtesy of Ng Pak Nam, who unlike his fellow countryman Wong Chun Ting managed to come through his Round of 32 encounter against no.14 seed Maharu Yoshimura with a smile on his face (9-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7).
Chinese Star Escapes Danger
Fang Bo was given an early scare in his opening Men’s Singles fixture in Linz with the no.3 seed requiring the full seven games distance to see off Croatian opponent Andrej Gacina (9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4).
There were also close encounters for Yan An and Lin Gaoyuan, who negotiated respective matches against Belgium’s Florent Lambiet (5-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9, 12-10) and Portugal’s Marcos Freitas (9-11, 12-10, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4) while Liang Jingkun exited to the host nation’s Robert Gardos.
Third Seed Falters And A New Record
Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa entered the Women’s Singles competition as the third seeded player and was hoping to enjoy a positive campaign in Linz following her gold and silver medal performances in the category at last month’s two ITTF World Tour events which were held in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
However, Kasumi Ishikawa was left disappointed at the first hurdle in Linz losing out to unseeded Chinese representative Wang Yidi (11-9, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8) in one of the most surprising results of the round.
Lower down in the draw there was a stunning match between Ni Xialian and Honoka Hashimoto, as the unseeded player from Luxembourg overcame the no.7 seed from Japan (9-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6, 5-11, 16-14, 18-16) setting a new world record in the process for the longest ever professional table tennis match in the modern era clocking in at one hour and 34 minutes.
Top Seeded Pairings Book Quarter-Finals Spots
Alongside the two singles tournaments, Day One also featured doubles action as the top seeded partnerships successfully progressed through the opening round of each competition.
Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima comfortably saw off the Hungarian duo of Tamas Lakatos and Bence Majoros without dropping a game (11-8, 11-7, 11-5) to reach to Men’s Doubles quarter-finals, while the top seeds in the Women’s Doubles event Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato edged to a five games win against Czech opponents Dana Cechova and Katerina Tomanovska (11-5, 7-11, 7-11, 11-8, 13-11).