by Simon Daish
Recovering from a two games to one deficit Germany’s Timo Boll saw off Japanese opponent Yuya Oshima across six games (11-6, 8-11, 3-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-6) to extend his stay at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals and earn his spot in the quarter-finals.
Fan Zhendong is also through to the last eight after negotiating a tricky opening round match against Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan (17-15, 8-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6).
“Chuang indeed played really well today. The third game was crucial for me, I didn’t have much of an advantage in the first four games but in the last two games I changed my pace and rhythm and minimised my unforced errors.” Fan Zhendong.
Third seed Fan Zhendong is still in with a chance of securing the top position in the men’s world rankings table but requires a title win in Astana and an opening round exit from Dimitrij Ovtcharov. The Chinese star has started his campaign with a victory, now the attention turns to his German rival in the race to become World no.1.
Two further encounters were hosted in the afternoon session of play with both matches featuring victories for Chinese representatives against opposition from Japan.
Lin Gaoyuan has been one of the standout names of the year on the world stage and by the looks of things he is hoping to end 2017 on a high note following a devastating performance from the fourth seed against Masaki Yoshida (11-4, 11-1, 11-6, 11-7).
The closing fixture of the opening day saw the fifth and ninth seeded competitors going head-to-head as Xu Xin met Kenta Matsudaira in the Round of 16.
Demonstrating a calm persona throughout the match Xu Xin was rarely troubled by his opponent, defeating Kenta Matsudaira without dropping a game (11-6, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8) to book a quarter-finals tie with fellow compatriot Fan Zhendong.
The Round of 16 resumes on day two at 14.40pm (local time).