by Ian Marshall, Editor
Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.3 seed, came perilously close to defeat against a Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the no.13 seed (11-5, 4-11, 7-11, 13-11, 5-11, 12-10), for Timo Boll, the no.2 seed, against a player he followed recently as European champion, life was rather less exacting.
In a contest between players of a similar style, both known for the heavy top spin imparted from the forehand, although these days I see the backhand much more in evidence from the German; Timo Boll emerged successful in five games (11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7).
“Emmanuel is always a dangerous opponent. I was a bit worried about getting a good start but I did it and I think I played well today. It’s awesome playing in Disneyland and in France with many enthusiastic supporters. I hope they will continue to cheer for me.” Timo Boll
Undoubtedly, it was somewhat a relief for Dimitrij Ovtcharov; the only previous occasion when they had met was just under two years ago at the 2016 Swedish Open when Mattias Falck hit a purple patch and totally contrary to expectations reached the final eventually losing to Japan’s Yuya Oshima
“Mattias was a tough opponent. We had met previously in the Swedish Open and I lost that match. He’s very unpredictable and difficult to play against. It was a super close match. Thanks for the support. Of course, we’re playing in France so the French players will get plenty of backing.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov
A reversal of fortunes for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, for Koki Niwa, the no.8 seed, against Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.12 seed, it was a continuation of fortunes; he emerged successful in five games (11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 11-5) and thus repeated the successes enjoyed on the ITTF World Tour in Germany in 2011 and more recently at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf.
Wins for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Timo Boll and Koki Niwa as status advised; it was the same for Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto. He beat Korea Republic’s Jeong Sangeun, the no.11 seed (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7) and thus turned the balance in his favour. Earlier this year he had beaten Jeong Sangeun at the World Team Cup in London but had then experienced defeat on home soil at the Asian Cup in Yokohama.
Play continues in the opening round, the quarter-finals will be staged later in the day.