by Simon Daish
Two of Japan’s brightest table tennis stars will meet face-to-face in the opening round of the Women’s Singles tournament as Miu Hirano and Honoka Hashimoto do battle; this is the first fixture between the two on the ITTF World Tour and with 17 positions separating the Japanese duo in the World Ranking list, the odds are in Hirano’s favour but can the defensive mastery of Hashimoto cause a few problems for the fourth seed?
Another major tie taking place in the first round sees No.9 seed Chen Xingtong fight it out with Mu Zi in an all-China contest. Mu Zi has experience of claiming victories against some of the world’s best players with one of her best performances coming in 2015 at the Swedish Open where she beat the likes of Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling on her way to the title. Neither Chen Xingtong nor Mu Zi will want to suffer an early exit in Bremen, but one will fall!
Top seed Feng Tianwei begins her campaign against Satuki Odo, who will take great confidence from her excellent outing in the qualification rounds, while Sabine Winter will look to make full use of the home advantage when she faces Jeon Jihee.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov remains in the hunt for the World No.1 spot for April 2018’s publication of the Men’s World Rankings list, but achieving that feat will not be easy.
For Dimitrij Ovtcharov to return to the summit of the list he must finish no lower than second position in Bremen or it will be China’s Fan Zhendong who will lead the table; providing the opposition in Ovtcharov’s opening match is Patrick Franziska – will Ovtcharov’s hopes of reclaiming the World No.1 spot be crushed early by his fellow countryman?
Day one of the 2018 German Open also sees the return of Chinese superstar Ma Long to the ITTF World Tour stage for the first time since the 2017 China Open, hosted in June last year. Ma Long looked in good shape at the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup, helping China to a gold medal finish and will look to get off to a strong start in Bremen when he meets Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura in last 32 action.
Xu Xin has the pleasure of facing Poland’s Jakub Dyjas, who stole the headlines on the final day of qualifying thanks to his fantastic straight games victory over Fang Bo, while the big story of the Qatar Open Hugo Calderano begins his Men’s Singles journey against Mattias Karlsson.
Play starts at 10.00 am (local time) with quarter-finals action from the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles competitions.