by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Zhou Qihao, the only Chinese player remaining, the young man who had impressed in the San Juan Convention Centre in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in January 2010, when he won the Boys’ Singles title at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge, set the round in motion.
He beat Sweden’s Jon Persson in five games (15-13, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-2).
“It’s my first time to play against Persson. I watched his last match with Wong Chun Ting and knew that he’s a very strong player. I was quite nervous but I was well prepared so I’m happy with my performance.” Zhou Qihao
Two qualifiers but it was a surprise outcome, presently Zhou Qihao has no world ranking, Jon Persson is listed at no.68; most certainly the ensuing contests were surprises as seeds were put to the sword and brothers experienced contrasting fortunes.
Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura, the no.9 seed and elder brother was beaten by Korea’s Cho Seungmin (11-7, 11-7, 11-1, 9-11, 10-12, 6-11, 11-5), a player who showed signs earlier this year that such a performance was in the offing; he won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open in Guadalajara.
“I prepared for the match by watching YouTube videos of Yoshimura’s play. The first three games I played in own rhythm and it worked. In the fourth game Yoshimura changed his tactics and I couldn’t adapt. I picked up his new tactics and played well in the seventh game.“ Cho Seungmin
Defeat against the odds for Maharu Yoshimura, for younger brother, Kazuhiro Yoshimura, it was the reverse scenario. He caused arguably the biggest upset of the round. Certainly he could lay claim to receiving the accolade of the performance of the round.
He beat Lee Sangsu, like Cho Seungmin from Korea Republic and the no.2 seed, in four straight games (20-18, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9).
“Lee Sangsu has a higher ranking than me but that didn’t give me any pressure. I just tried to play at my own pace and it worked. The main reason I won this match was good service receive.” Kazuhiro Yoshimura
Impressive from Kazuhiro Yoshimura, in the immediately preceding contest it had been the same from Lee Sangsu’s colleague, Lim Jonghoon, the winner earlier in the year at the ITTF Challenge Series Polish Open but in Hong Kong had given no hint that he may make such progress.
In his first match of the tournament, the top seed, he had been beaten in the opening round of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event by Japan’s Yukiya Uda (11-9, 11-7, 4-11, 11-5). Now accustomed to the surroundings, it was a different story three days later; he accounted for Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.4 seed, in six games (11-9, 11-3, 10-12, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9).
A surprise maybe not; last year in the same round as in Hong Kong at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Korea Open, Lim Jonghoon had beaten Marcos Freitas in five games.
At the semi-final stage Zhou Qihan meets Cho Seungmin; Lim Jonghoon opposes Kazuhiro Yoshimura. The matches will be played later in the day.