by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
He is the top seed in the Men’s Singles event, listed ahead of India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Japan’s Masataka Morizono with Harmeet Desai, also from India, occupying the fourth spot.
Alongside Sharath Kamal Achanta; Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai were very much the first choices of coach, Massimo Costantini, for the Indian Men’s Team at the recent Commonwealth Games; for Masataka Morizono that is his goal, to establish a place in the Japanese elite.
In Bangkok, there is a major opportunity to present his case; with the greatest of respect, at the recent Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships, the Japanese men did not meet expectations. Two years earlier in Kuala Lumpur, the silver medal had been their lot; in Halmstad there was no place on the podium.
Last year, Masataka Morizono won the Men’s Singles title at the Universiade and his doubles record in harness with Yuya Oshima is quite outstanding. Runners up at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships, winners at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in 2015 and 2017, the silver medallists in the intervening year, the record speaks for itself.
In Bangkok, Masataka Morizono partners Kenta Tazoe; they are the second seeds behind Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Indian colleague Sanil Shetty.
A partner for Masataka Morizono, in the Men’s Singles event, Kenta Tazoe is a major threat. He is the no.6 seed one place behind Sanil Shetty. Notably, Kenta Tazoe won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open; impressive but does the major threat to the aspirations of Masataka Morizono come from two colleagues, who likewise, did not gain places in the Halmstad selection?
Mizuki Oikwawa, who just over a month ago in early April won the Men’s Singles title at the 2018 ITTF World Tour Slovenia Open is the no.7 seed, one place ahead of Austria’s Andreas Levenko, the top seed in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event.