by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The spirit with which he played endeared him to a faithful group of Indian supporters who warmed to his sincerity and honest approach; he gave heart and soul against an equally splendid adversary in the guise of Yuya Oshima.
A scintillating display, it rather overshadowed the efforts of China’s Fang Bo and Ukraine’s Kou Lei, likewise both players who had been required to compete in the two day qualification tournament.
Fang Bo beat Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.11 seed in seven games (11-9, 11-4, 9-11, 13-15, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7); rather more comfortably Kou Lei accounted for Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.10 seed (11-8, 16-14, 11-7, 5-11, 8-11, 11-2).
“He was not in good shape today; he’s just come back from injury. He was uncomfortable. He has beaten me more times than I’ve beaten him. He beat me at the Rio Olympic Games and in Malaysia at the World Team Championships. The first three games were close. I lost the fourth, lost confidence. I played too slowly. I increased the tempo of my play in the sixth game.” Kou Lei
Meanwhile in the remaining contests in the lower half of the draw in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event, matters went according to plan.
Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.2 seed, beat Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju (12-14, 11-5, 11-6, 11-3, 11-5), a young man on whom those who set eyes are immediately impressed, the player who currently heads the Men’s World Ranking was no exception.
“I am very impressed, for his age he plays at a very good level, he is safe and he plays with good control. He is a big player for our sport for the future. He is not far behind Tomokazu Harimoto” Timo Boll
It was an impressive effort from Lin Yun-Ju, it was equally impressive from the man himself, Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.8 seed, as it was from Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the no.14 seed, the player who is taking Latin American aspirations to new levels. Tomokazu Harimoto beat Italy’s Mihai Bobocica (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 11-3), Hugo Calderano ended the hopes of Korea’s Lim Jonghoon (11-1, 11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5).
“He’s powerful, just look at his legs, so powerful. He is fast; I felt confident in the service and receive game. It was quite a strange match, I won the first game 11-1 and then in the second I went ahead 6-0; I knew he had to come back and the match could not continue like that; I knew he had to play better.” Hugo Calderano
Impressive performances, it was the same from Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.6 seed who beat Germany’s Benedikt Duda (11-7, 10-12, 11-6, 10-12, 13-11, 7-11, 11-4) and China’s Lin Gaoyuan who defeated Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan (14-12, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7).
The second round of the Men’s Singles event will be staged on Friday 9th March.