by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The contest between Zhang Jike and Maharu Yoshimura, the winner on the ITTF World Tour in Croatia and Spain in 2015 but not on duty at the recent Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships, ebbed and flowed. Eventually Maharu Yoshimura recovered from a three games to two deficit to emerge successful by the minimal margin in the decider (11-9, 8-11, 13-11, 13-15, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9).
Now for Maharu Yoshimura a rather different opponent awaits; he faces Egypt’s ebullient Omar Assar, the no.6 seed. In the opening round of proceedings he accounted for Singapore’s recently crowned Commonwealth champion, Gao Ning (11-7, 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 12-10).
“I am glad that I won the match. Zhang is a player, I respect a lot and I knew that it’s his first tournament after a long rest. I am happy to have had the chance to play against him. It is a precious experience for me to learn and I’m looking forward to playing Omar Assar in the next round.” Maharu Yoshimura
A notable win for Japan; conversely for the Land of the Rising Sun, there was a notable defeat; Kenta Matsudaira, the no.3 seed, was beaten in four straight games by Jang Woojin (11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7).
Imposing from Jang Woojin, success without the loss of a single game; it was the same from Zhou Qihao who in the top half of the draw is the only Chinese player remaining. He beat Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.7 seed (11-8, 12-10, 11-4, 12-10).
Likewise Jon Persson showed no mercy He defeated Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.15 seed in style (11-8, 11-3, 11-4, 11-9). Meanwhile, for Cho Seungmin, life was somewhat more exacting; he needed six games to end the progress of Germany’s Bastien Steger, the no.10 seed (7-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-4).
Success contrary to status, for the host association it was varying fortunes. Wong Chun Ting the top seed, beat Austria’s Daniel Habesohn (11-7, 13-11, 14-12, 12-10); qualifier Jiang Tianyi lost to Germany’s Patrick Franziska, the no.11 seed in a close seven games encounter (8-11, 12-14, 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7).
“It was a good match. I am happy with my play. I have just returned from Europe so I am still a bit tired; the previous Men’s Doubles match earlier today gave me a good chance to warm up and get used to the arena environment.” Wong Chun Ting
Defeat for Jiang Tianyi means that Wong Chun Ting is the only remaining player from Hong Kong in the Men’s Singles event; the second round will be played in entirety on Friday 25th May.