by Simon Daish
Miu Hirano and Mima Ito, both aged 17, travelled to Stockholm as potential podium contenders but stunningly neither player proved able to negotiate their opening round Women’s Singles fixtures in Stockholm.
Responsible for the early eliminations of the Japanese stars were lower ranked Chinese opponents Chen Xingtong and Sun Mingyang, who came out on top against fifth seed Miu Hirano (6-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8) and no.6 seed Mima Ito (11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4) with relatively little difficulty.
German contestants Han Ying and Shan Xiaona have also been knocked out of the competition in the Round of 32 stage following shock defeats to Japan’s Miyu Kato (12-10, 11-5, 9-11, 9-11, 3-11, 11-5, 8-11) and China’s Zhang Qiang (11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 7-11, 8-11, 8-11), who are both unseeded for the event.
However, there is still a glimmer of hope for Europe after Hu Melek and Matilda Ekholm, competing for Turkey and Sweden respectively, successfully negotiated their round one fixtures against Hitomi Sato (8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8) and Soo Wai Yam Minnie (11-9, 11-9, 13-15, 11-7, 11-9) to advance through to the last 16.
One of the major upsets to occur in the opening round of the Men’s Singles tournament came courtesy of Danish competitor Jonathan Groth, who edged to a narrow win in the deciding game against Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu.
The unseeded qualifier Jonathan Groth produced some of his best table tennis to date against Lee Sangsu as the in form ninth seed exited the competition in dramatic circumstances (11-8, 12-10, 7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 2-11, 12-10).
Quadri Aruna was also impressed in round one, claiming a fantastic six games victory over the no.5 seeded player Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting (11-7, 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 2-11, 11-6) to hand the Nigerian a Round of 16 encounter against Portugal’s Marcos Freitas.
12th seed Marcos Freitas recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Denmark’s Zhai Yujia across seven ends (9-11, 5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6) while there was a major scare for 11th seed Tomokazu Harimoto as the Japanese teenage ace was pushed hard by the host nation’s Jens Lundqvist (11-4, 9-11, 9-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-9, 11-8).