by Ian Marshall, Editor
First to fall was Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the top seed; he was beaten by England’s Liam Pitchford in a contest between two players renowned for lethal backhands.
Once again it was an earlier than anticipated exit for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, just as last year was “Annus Mirabilis”, with the Men’s World Cup title secured; this year has been “Annus Horribilis”. In five appearances on this year’s Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour, the quarter-final defeat in Olomouc is his best finish.
Conversely, for Liam Pitchford, he is in a rich vein of form and is now in unchartered waters; his previous best on the ITTF World Tour being a quarter-final finish in 2013 in Germany and more recently in 2016 in Sweden; notably in the latter the player who ended his progress was a certain Dimitrij Ovtcharov! Revenge is sweet.
Defeat for Dimitrij Ovtcharov was followed by a German defeat at the hands of a player who, like Liam Pitchford, had been required to compete in the two day qualification tournament; Bastian Steger, the no.13 seed suffered at the hands of China’s Zheng Peifeng (11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4), a young man who clearly has a penchant for German adversaries. Last week in Bulgaria, he ended the hopes of Dimitrij Ovtcharov in round two.
Disappointments for Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Bastian Steger, as the round concluded there was also defeat for Patrick Franziska, the no.9 seed, he was beaten by Japan’s Tomokazu Harmoto, the no.2 seed and defending champion (2-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8).
At the semi-final stage, Liam Pitchford faces Zheng Peifeng; Tomokazu Harimoto confronts Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.4 seed, the quarter-final winner in opposition to Austrian qualifier Daniel Habesohn (11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-3).
“I’m very happy that I beat him. He is a very good and strong player. He has been playing really well in the past months and he has had good results. He is also my good friend as I practised with him in the Schlager Academy for three years. We know each other really well. I was expecting a really tough match because I had lost against him the second last time we played against each other. Today I had a good start. He had problems with my service and I was feeling confident. The match was not about tactics; just about being more consistent, keeping more balls on the table, to be faster, to run for every point and to make less mistakes. I think I made less mistakes and this is why I managed to win.” Marcos Freitas
The matches will be played later in the evening session of play.