by Simon Daish
Koki Niwa made a decent start to the 2017 ITTF World Tour, registering a semi-final finish in the Men’s Singles competition in India but proved unable to equal that record throughout the rest of the year.
Instead it was the Liebherr 2017 ITTF World Championships which produced what was arguably Koki Niwa’s finest effort with the Japanese competitor securing a top eight finish in Dusseldorf.
Trailing Dimitrij Ovtcharov by a two games to one deficit in the Round of 16, Koki Niwa recovered to defeat the German across seven games before exiting to the eventual runner up Fan Zhendong.
Another quarter-finals finish came at the Liebherr 2017 ITTF-Men’s World Cup, losing out to World No.1 Ma Long in a closely fought out contest.
Despite highly impressive performances leading to a couple of major upsets, including a straight games victory over Zhang Jike at the ITTF World Tour event held in Qatar, Koki Niwa hasn’t been the Japanese star grabbing the headlines in 2017, that honour falls to Tomokazu Harimoto.
Also competing at the upcoming ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, Tomokazu Harimoto, 14, has rightly received plenty of praise for his superb year on the international scene and is surely knocking on the door of the Japanese first team.
However, for now there are three players from Japan who currently occupy higher positions in the world rankings table including Koki Niwa. Last year at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals Koki Niwa suffered an opening round exit, will he enjoy a stronger outing in Astana?