by Ian Marshall, Editor
Fast attacking play, Zhang Rui is very similar to Wang Yidi but if one player in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event faces a Chinese player of a similar style to last week in Bulgaria, it is Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.8 seed.
In fact she confronts exactly the same player as she met in Panagyurishte and experienced a five games defeat. She opposes Wen Jia.
Chinese adversaries, who have negotiated the qualification stage and are accustomed to the venue present formidable opposition; similarly, Poland’s Li Qian, the no.11 seed, faces Wang Yidi, Germany’s Han Ying, the no.14 seed, confronts Sun Mingyang. Also, Hungary’s Georgina Pota, the no.13 seed, opposes Liu Gaoyang, a semi-finalist in Bulgaria, whilst for Japan’s Hina Hayata, the no.5 seed, the defensive skills of Wu Yang await.
Meanwhile, for Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed and Hitomi Sato, the no.4 seed; notable Germans are the first round adversaries. Kasumi Ishikawa plays Kristin Lang; Hitomi Sato confronts Sabine Winter, known to be strong against defensive players. Somewhat differently for Miu Hirano, a familiar faces awaits in the opening round; she opposes Japanese colleague, Mizuki Morizono.
Qualifiers hungry to prove a point, especially those from China; it is not too dissimilar in the first round of the Men’s Singles event. There are difficult tasks ahead for Germany’s Benedikt Duda, the no.15 seed and for the host nation’s Pavel Sirucek, the no.16 seed. The former faces Zhang Yudong, the latter confronts Zheng Peifeng.
Notably, last week in Bulgaria, Zheng Peifeng ended the progress of Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov in round two; in Olomouc, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, once again the top seed, faces and adversary who on his day can challenge the best. He confronts Japan’s Taku Takakiwa, the player who on the ITTF World Tour in 2012 beat China’s Zhang Jike, later in the year Zhang Jike became Olympic champion.
Likewise Japanese opponents lay in wait for Koki Niwa, the no.3 seed and for Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.4 seed; Koki Niwa faces colleague Misuki Oikawa, Marcos Freitas confronts Yuki Hirano. Japan in force, Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.2 seed and defending champion, opposes Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, the Under 21 Men’s Singles silver medallist in Olomouc.
Players in form but if there are two players who have shone in the Men’s Singles qualification tournament, it was Russia’s Kirill Skachkov and Poland’s Marek Badowski. Kirill Skachkov faces namesake, Kirill Gerassimenko, the no.14 seed; Marek Badowski who in the preliminary rounds accounted for Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic and Sweden’s Pär Gerell, meets another European.
He opposes a certain Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.10 seed. The master of control starts as favourite but what an opportunity for the 21 year old to make a name for himself; I doubt he has had better.