by Simon Daish
Journey ends for title favourite
One of the biggest shocks of the day came in the Men’s Singles event as top seed Kou Lei experienced elimination from the competition after losing out to unseeded Japanese teenager Shunsuke Togami 4-2 (11-7, 11-3, 11-9, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9) in the Round of 32.
The no.7 and no.10 seeded players, Alexandre Robinot and Yukiya Uda were sent home against expectations following defeats against Yuki Matsuyama (11-6, 8-11, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7) and qualifier Zhao Zihao (11-3, 6-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5) while the likes of no.11 seed Martin Allegro and no.13 seed Tomas Konecny also bid their farewells.
There was further drama at the foot of the draw with Italy’s Leonardo Mutti producing a wonderful comeback display to see off Polish opponent Patryk Zatowka in a gripping full distance thriller (8-11, 11-4, 7-11, 5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9).
Russian trio march on
Three competitors representing Russia enjoyed victories in the Round of 32 of the Women’s Singles event including qualifier Maria Dolgikh, who held her nerve to beat Korea Republic’s Kim Mingyung across seven games (11-8, 13-15, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 7-11, 15-13).
Sixth seed Polina Mikhailova and no.12 seed Yana Noskova were the two other Russians to advance: trailing 2-3, Polina Mikhailova successfully recovered the situation to pull off a 4-3 victory over Japan’s Miku Izumo (8-11, 12-10, 11-2, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6) while Yana Noskova needed just five games to get the job done against Mateja Jeger of Croatia (11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 11-3, 11-7).
Canada’s Zhang Mo and Japan’s Saki Shibata, the top two seeds in Minsk, have extended their journeys at opposite ends of the draw, beating Yumeno Soma (11-5, 11-2, 11-6, 12-10) and Kim Haeun (11-1, 11-8, 11-13, 11-4, 11-6) but it was the end of the road for local favourite Dario Trigolos as she exited to no.14 seed Maki Shiomi by a 4-0 score-line.
Historic occasion for Saudi Arabia
The partnership of Ali Alkhadrawi and Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi have led Saudi Arabia to its first Men’s Doubles quarter-finals at either an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series event following a superb outing against no.3 seeds Ibrahim Gunduz and Abdullah Yigenler on Day Two (11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 11-6) while the top seeds from India, Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty also entered the headlines after they fell at the first attempt.
Over in the Women’s Doubles draw we lost Luxembourg’s Sarah De Nutte and Danielle Konsbruck, seeded third, to the unseeded Czech pair of Karin Adamkova and Aneta Kucerova (6-11, 12-10, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9) and there is also no spot in the quarter-finals for no.4 seeds Laura Gasnier and Audrey Zarif with the French duo failing to capitalise on a two games advantage against China’s Guo Ruichen and He Aige (7-11, 12-14, 11-8, 11-7, 13-11).