by Simon Daish
Kasumi Ishikawa was one of the standout players at last week’s ITTF World Tour event held in Magdeburg, claiming a terrific victory over the 2016 champion Wu Yang on her way to securing a top four finish in the Women’s Singles competition in the German city.
The 24-year-old Japanese competitor begins her campaign in Stockholm against Poland’s Li Qian, who like Wu Yang is a well drilled defensively minded player. Will Kasumi Ishikawa’s aggressive tactics result in an early win for the fourth seed or will she be undone by the ever consistent qualifier?
Slightly further down the draw another star from Japan will also be looking to negotiate European opposition in the Round of 32 as Hitomi Sato, seeded ninth, faces a tricky opening encounter against Turkey’s Hu Melek.
China’s Ding Ning returns to action for the first time on the international stage since winning the Women’s Singles gold medal at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour China Open held in late June and will face Austria’s Sofia Polcanova at the first hurdle. Chen Meng takes on Lee Ho Ching and world no.1 Zhu Yuling meets Miyuu Kihara.
Darko Jorgic was very much the comeback specialist on the final day of qualifying, recovering from 6-10 down in the fifth game against Romain Lorentz before registering six consecutive points to beat the French player in the opening round of preliminary matches and one round later the Slovenian athlete trailed Chinese opponent Liang Jingkun 5-10 in game six but still managed to earn his spot in the main draw by claiming seven points in a row.
The Slovenian’s determination has landed him a Round of 32 encounter against Japan’s Koki Niwa, who will enter the tie as the hot favourite to progress but Darko Jorgic has already shown that he has the potential to rescue himself from a difficult situation and could pose a difficult challenge for the no.3 seed.
Chen Chien-An is well known for his former tussles against the very best players China has to offer having picked up victories over Zhang Jike and Fan Zhendong during the course of his career and will be keen to claim another big scalp in his round one fixture in Stockholm.
Second seed Xu Xin awaits Chen Chien-An on the evening of day one while fellow Chinese Taipei contestant Chuang Chih-Yuan does battle with Zhou Yu.