by Simon Daish
Dimitrij Ovtcharov headed into the day’s action knowing that a win against Koki Niwa would be enough to take the World no.1 spot as of Monday 1st January 2018. After seven gruelling games the top seed eventually got the job done (10-12, 11-6, 12-14, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5) and was understandably over the moon with his achievement.
“(World no.1) sounds unreal. I have been dreaming about that since I started playing, but I mean we have millions of players around the world working hard and they can soon read my name on the top of the list. That makes me proud and I’m very thankful to everyone who have supported me throughout my entire career.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
More German success came courtesy of Timo Boll, who came through his quarter-finals tie against Wong Chun Ting with a six games win to his name (4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-3).
Fan Zhendong awaits Timo Boll in the last four after the Chinese competitor prevailed over Xu Xin (11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10) to progress beyond the quarter-finals.
There was a close shave for Zhu Yuling in the Women’s Singles draw as the seventh seeded player was pushed right down to the wire by Japan’s Hina Hayata (9-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7), setting up a quarter-finals meeting with Wang Manyu who earned her spot in the last eight with a fine showing against Hitomi Sato (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10).
Day two also hosted the first quarter-finals fixture of the Women’s Singles category with victories for Chen Meng and Gu Yuting guaranteeing China’s place in the final.
Chen Meng put in a commanding display to see off Singapore’s Feng Tianwei without dropping a single game (11-4, 11-8, 11-6, 11-3) while Gu Yuting picked up an impressive win against Japanese opponent Kasumi Ishikawa (6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4) to reach the last four on her debut at the tournament.
History was made by Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima at the start of the day after the Japanese duo made certain of their place in the Men’s Doubles final for the third consecutive year becoming the first partnership to achieve the feat on the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals stage.
Accounting for Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An and Chiang Hung-Chieh in the semi-finals (11-3, 11-7, 10-12, 12-14, 11-8, 11-5), second seeds Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima will meet Wong Chun Ting and Ho Kwan Kit of Hong Kong in the title match.
Japan also remains in the hunt for the Women’s Doubles trophy in Astana following a semi-finals victory for Hina Hayata and Mima Ito against the Hong Kong pairing of Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching (8-11, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9, 16-14).
Hina Hayata and Mima Ito take on Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling in Sunday’s title match in a repeat fixture of the 2017 Swedish Open Women’s Doubles final.