by Simon Daish
The day’s play commences at 10.00am (local time) with the opening of the Women’s Doubles competition. 16 partnerships will be reduced to eight, but one pairing hoping to avoid an early exit in Hong Kong is the Japanese duo of Hina Hayata and Mima Ito with the top seeds beginning their campaign against Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin and Canada’s Zhang Mo.
Then at about 11.20am it’s the turn of the Men’s Doubles event to get underway which will feature the fourth seeded German and Danish combination of Patrick Franziska and Jonathan Groth’s meeting with the Commonwealth Games bronze medal winning duo of India’s Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty.
Alongside the doubles action there is also the opening round of the two singles competitions to be played out on day one as both events commence at the Round of 32 stage.
One of the ties set to feature in the Women’s Singles draw at 13.00pm sharp is an all-Japanese encounter between Mima Ito and Honoka Hashimoto: aged 17 and 19 respectively, Ito and Hashimoto are not only two of Japan’s brightest young stars but are also two players who are fully capable of representing Japan at the Olympic Games when the event heads to Tokyo in 2020 so be sure to keep an eye out for this one.
Another tie which promises to excite sees Gu Yuting go up against third seed Wang Manyu in what will be their third encounter on the world stage. Wang Manyu will be looking to extend her unbeaten run against her fellow compatriot having beaten Gu Yuting on last year’s ITTF World Tour on two occasions, but could we potentially see a different outcome unfold when the two meet in Hong Kong?
The top seeded player of the Men’s Singles tournament will be hoping to take full advantage of the home crowd at 14.40pm as Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting faces Austrian opponent Daniel Habesohn, who will approach the match with great confidence following his superb win against Japan’s Masataka Morizono in the final round of qualifying.
Regarded as one of the African continent’s strongest players Egypt’s Omar Assar, seeded sixth, begins his journey with a tough fixture against Commonwealth Games champion Gao Ning while Zhang Jike’s return to main draw action comes in opposition to ninth seed Maharu Yoshimura.