09 Nov 2018

Runner up one year at the Grand Finals in Astana; this year there will be no such place on the podium for Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov.

The no.4 seed, on Thursday 8th November, he was beaten by Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Liebherr Austrian Open in Linz.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

A young man who oozes talent, the 17 year old with a touch of genius, emerged successful in six games (14-12, 10-12, 12-10, 12-10, 12-10, 7-11, 11-7).

“After this victory against such a top player, I feel very proud and I feel like I have broken through a glass ceiling. The last time I played against him I lost but today I prepared a lot for his serve variations. I was able to maintain my own pace throughout the match and I didn’t give him the opportunity to play fast attacks.” Lin Yun-Ju

Realistically for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, at the start of the day, gaining a place in the Grand Finals was a long shot; he needed to win the tournament to have any chance. Nevertheless, the character of Dimitrij Ovtcharov is that of a winner, defeat was a bitter pill to swallow.

“A pity, I am very disappointed. He risked a lot, had nothing to lose and managed the surprise.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov

Outstanding from Lin Yun-Ju, his efforts rather overshadowed those of Japan’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura, Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin and China’s Liang Jingkun .

All required to compete in the two day qualification tournament, Kazuhiro Yoshimura, the winner earlier in the year in Hong Kong caused a major upset by beating Lin Gaoyuan, the no.5 seed and like Liang Jingkun from China (2-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 14-12);

“He is much higher than me in world ranking, so I had no pressure; of course he was favourite. I was confident and I did believe in my chances. I could change angles with my backhand very well and impart much pressure on him with my forehand. Last year I lost to him here in Linz in first round, later he won the tournament. Today I could take revenge for that loss.” Kazuhiro Yoshimura

Most impressive from Kazuhiro Yoshimura; similarly, Jang Woojin ousted compatriot, Lee Sangsu, the no.7 seed (11-2, 8-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9), not to be left out, Liang Jingkun overcame Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting (11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10).

Upsets abundant but as play in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event commenced, four matches did proceed according to status. China’s Fan Zhendong, the top seed, made his intentions clear by beating Italy’s Niagol Stoyanov (11-6, 11-5, 11-1, 7-11, 11-6), as did colleague Xu Xin, the no.2 seed; he accounted for younger compatriot Liu Dingshuo (11-8, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5).

Similarly, Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.10 seed, ended the hopes of Zhou Qihao, likewise from China and surprise semi-finalist last week in Sweden (11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 11-5, 7-11, 11-9); listed one place lower, Brazil’s Hugo Calderano eventually overcame Korea Republic’s Park Ganghyeon, the winner just under two weeks ago at the ITTF Challenge Belgium Open (12-14, 11-9, 11-13, 7-11, 11-4, 11-2, 11-7).

“It was a tough match. He is a very good player. I was three-one and came back. Linz it’s my town. I was here in the final 2016. The crowd was great and helped me come back. Now I am focused.” Hugo Calderano

The appearance of Fan Zhendong alongside, Lin Gaoyuan and Liang Jingkun in Austria means they have fulfilled the five tournament criteria; they are assured places in next month’s Grand Finals in Incheon. Jang Woojin and Hugo Calderano are likewise certain to receive Men’s Singles invitations as is Lee Sangsu.

However, the fate of Wong Chun Ting, who started the day in 13th place (407 points) and Liu Dingshuo one position lower (371 points) is somewhat in the balance. Koki Niwa in 16th position (288 points), following Swedish adventures, has given his chances a major boost; similarly, Kazuhiro Yoshimura in 19th position (266 points) has boosted his hopes, one more win and he may well be Incheon bound.

World Tour 2018 Seamaster Austria Open Dimitrij Ovtcharov Lin Yun -Ju

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Qualification Day 1 - Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Liebherr Austrian Open