by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Zhai Yujia recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat Hong Kong’s Jiang Tianyi (5-11, 12-14, 5-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5), the winner in Brazil in 2008 and seven years later in Hungary; Masataka Morizono fought back from three games to two in arrears to overcome Frenchman, Abdel-Kader Salifou. Notably Abdel-Kader Salifou has three ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles to his name; in 2013 he won in Morocco, Croatia and Egypt.
Success for Zhai Yujia on what is somewhat a return to the international scene; in December 2015 in Lisbon, he was the runner up in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event at the GAC Group ITTF World Tour Grand Finals. However, last year and earlier this year, he has spent much of his time in Hangzhou, the China National Games being a priority.
In Denmark he is based in Slagelse being under the tutelage of He Keyi , who has been in Denmark for 11 years, Zhai Yujia has been in Denmark for five years.
“The first three games he could not find a rhythm to his play, he was playing too fast; after the third game he played in a more calm manner. He was able to control the rhythm of the play. Also he played with more spin, more top spin, greater rotation on the ball and certainly over the table he was very good.” He Keyi
Hard fought success for Zhai Yujia; was the same for Masataka Morizono who found Abdel-Kader Saifou a most determined opponent.
“It was hard to adjust to the way he played, he created angles wide to my forehand and that made it difficult for me; when I was down three-two I thought I was going to lose. I just tried to be positive. In the seventh game I led 5-3; he came back to 6-all but then I went ahead 9-6. In the seventh game I was never behind; that certainly helped.” Masataka Morizono.
Success for Zhai Yujia and for Masataka Morizono; to the delight of the home crowd there was also success for Sweden. Jens Lundqvist beat Germany’s Patrick Franziska (8-11, 14-12, 12-10, 4-11, 12-10, 11-5).
In the second preliminary round, Zhai Yujia meets Paul Drinkhall, Masataka Morizono opposes India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta; Jens Lundqvist plays Portugal’s João Monteiro.
The matches will be played later in the day.