by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In the Men’s Singles event, in the third round Alvaro Robles confronts Korea’s highly talented Seo Hyundeok, during his career the winner of no less than six ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles titles.
An intriguing contest, it is the same for Carlos Machado. He plays India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the winner last year in Belgium but arguably the most severe test of all is in the second round of the Women’s Singles where Maria Xiao, meets the top seed, Japan’s Hina Hayata, the winner in 2016 in Australia.
Similarly, possibilities of semi-final places are open for Spain in both the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles events. At the quarter-final stage Carlos Machado and Alvaro Robles meet Austria’s Alexander Chen and Simon Pfeffer, Carlos Franco and Miguel Vilchez oppose Korea’s Cho Seungmin and Park Ganghyeon.
Likewise there are two Spanish pairs on duty in the last eight of the Women’s Doubles event. Once again for Maria Xiao, as in the Women’s Singles event, the top seeds await; partnering Sara Ramirez, the duo opposes Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun. Meanwhile colleague, Anna Garcia and Zhang Xuan, play the Belarus pairing of Marharyta Baltushite and Nadezhda Bogdanova.
Mouth-watering contests, there are many more; in the Men’s Singles event, in the third round, Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan, the no.4 seed and younger brother Nima Alamian, the no. 9 seed, face Japanese adversaries. Noshad Alamiyan confronts Yuki Matsuyama, the no.19 seed; Nima Alamian opposes Kenji Matsudaira, the no.7 seed.
Japan very much in evidence, so is Hong Kong; Jiang Tianyi, the no.2 seed, meets colleague Lam Siu Hang, the no.10 seed; Ng Pak Nam, the no.14 seed, confronts Korea’s Cho Seungmin, the no.3 seed.
Noteworthy opponents, it is the same for Austria’s Robert Gardos, in the third round of the Men’s Singles event, he opposes Italy’s Mihai Bobocica, the no.12 seed.
Equally, in the second round of the Women’s Singles event, in addition to the duel between Hina Hayata and Maria Xiao, there are contests that attract the eye; notably when Japan faces Korea. Marina Matsuzawa plays Jeon Jihee, the no.2 seed, Yui Hamamoto, the no.3 seed confronts qualifier Kim Danbi, Maki Shiomi faces Ji Eunchae, also a qualifier.
Testing times for elite names, it is the same for Korea’s Yang Haeun, the no.4 seed; in the third round of the Women’s Singles event, she faces Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, the no.9 seed.
At the end of the penultimate day of action, the finalists in the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles events will be known; the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles competitions the semi-finalists will be realised.
However, in the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles competitions the winners will be declared; pertinently the leading names in both events are very much in line for honours.
At the quarter-final stage of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event, Japan’s Kyoka Kato, the top seed, meets colleague, Satsuki Odo; Korea’s Ji Eunchae, the second seed, opposes Russia’s Valeria Shcherbatykh.
Contests to note but the most eye catching is in the round of the last eight in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event; Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hang, the no.2 seed, meets Korea’s Park Ganghyeon. Just over one week ago they met in the final at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open, Park Ganghyeon prevailed.
Park Ganghyeon is a name to note; likewise Cho Seungmin very much attracts the attention; the top seed in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event, he faces Austria’s Andrea Levenko at the quarter-final stage.