by Simon Daish
Qualifiers leave their mark
Required to compete in the two-day qualification tournament that preceded the main event, now Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju is through to the Round of 16 in the Men’s Singles draw after posting a dramatic 4-2 victory over Dimitrij Ovtcharov (14-12, 10-12, 12-10, 12-10, 7-11, 11-7) to end the German’s hopes of reaching the 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
“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
Turning heads with his eye-catching performance in the qualification stages India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran continues to thrill in Linz, knocking no.14 seed Marcos Freitas out of the running (4-11, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7) and round one also marked the end of no.13 seed Chuang Chih-Yuan’s journey following his seven games defeat to Chinese qualifier Zheng Peifeng (11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 3-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6).
— ITTF World (@ittfworld) November 8, 2018
Displaying nerves of steel, Japan’s Jun Mizutani recovered from 1-3 down to beat Germany’s Ricardo Walther by a 4-3 score-line (10-12, 11-2, 7-11, 5-11, 14-12, 11-6, 11-3) while Austria’s Robert Gardos and Daniel Habesohn lost out to Liam Pitchford and Jin Ueda.
Lin Gaoyuan, Lee Sangsu and Wong Chun Ting, seeded fifth, seventh and ninth respectively all exited at the first hurdle but no.3 seed Timo Boll avoided the same fate after negotiating an intense encounter with fellow compatriot Patrick Franziska (11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 3-11, 10-12, 11-6, 13-11).
Japanese duo hit with early disappointment
The Women’s Singles event also witnessed its fair share of drama on Day One with shock exits for two seeded competitors from Japan.
Seeded fourth and considered a major contender in Linz but Kasumi Ishikawa was left stunned at the first hurdle as Chinese qualifier He Zhuojia earned an impressive 4-0 victory (11-5, 11-5, 11-4, 11-4). Hitomi Sato’s campaign was also brought to an early finish with the no.14 seed losing out to Romania’s Bernadette Szocs (12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10, 7-11, 12-10).
— ITTF World (@ittfworld) November 8, 2018
Another seeded player who came mightily close to a round one defeat was Singapore’s Feng Tianwei: Holding a 2-0 advantage but the no.11 seed struggled to find a way past Ukrainian qualifier Margaryta Pesotska, who managed to fight back to force a deciding game. Feng Tianwei then saved two match point opportunities in deuce to seal a 4-3 win (11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 9-11, 12-10, 7-11, 14-12) and her spot in the next round.
There was disappointment for the host nation as Sofia Polcanova and Amelie Solja suffered opening round exits to Sun Yingsha and Honaka Hashimoto while last year’s champion Wang Manyu needed five games to see off Petrissa Solja (11-8, 11-7, 14-16, 11-8, 12-10).
“She is a very strong player. I had problems concentrating; I have a cold. In the final game I risked more, in the end too much. The tournament is over for me now, it’s time to recover. Overall, it’s great that Linz hosts such a big tournament; that makes me proud for in my hometown.” Sofia Polcanova
Perfect show from Chinese pairs
China enjoyed a positive day across all three doubles events on Day One with none of the country’s partnerships suffering elimination.
In the Men’s Doubles draw Fan Zhendong and Wang Chuqin proved the successful pair against Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An and Chuang Chih-Yuan and there was positive news in the Women’s Doubles category as well with Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha progressing along with Liu Gaoyang and Zhang Rui.
Keeping China’s hopes alive in the Mixed Doubles is Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen, who opened their account with a 3-1 victory over the host nation’s Stefan Fegerl and Sofia Polcanova but the story of the round was a win for Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin and DPR Korea’s Cha Hyo Sim over Belgium’s Cedric Nuytinck and Lisa Lung (11-5, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7).
Through to the quarter-finals, the Korean Peninsula duo have now qualified for the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals set to take place in Incheon, Korea Republic next month!