by Ian Marshall, Editor
There is no questioning the talent, the high skill level of Lin Gaoyuan but of the Chinese leading names he is arguably not the most stable and has experienced calamities.
Earlier this year that talent was in evidence. He emerged successful at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open, before in Portugal at the Challenge tournament finishing in runners up spot. Lin Gaoyuan is the favourite but Tomislav Pucar must me licking his lips at the chance presented.
Somewhat differently, Masataka Morizono, who excelled in the qualification tournament, faces an adversary who is no stranger; he opposes Japanese national team colleague, Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.3 seed. Likewise Timo Boll, the no.4 seed faces a familiar face, he opposes German compatriot Benedikt Duda.
Both Tomokazu Harimoto and Timo Boll start as favourites, as does China’s Xu Xin, the top seed against Korea Republic’s Lim Jonghoon. However, in the opening round if there is one match that is in the balance, it is that involving Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Jun. The 17 year old is a young man who like Lin Gaoyuan oozes talent and like Tomislav Pucar is in a rich vein of form. Last Sunday he won the men’s singles title at the Seamsaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Oman Open.
A match to catch the eye; in the opening round of the women’s singles event, the contest to attract the attention it is that between Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa and Sun Yingsha, the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist. A testing encounter but last year in the Korea Republic on their one and only prior international meeting, Kasumi Ishikawa gained the verdict.
Secure and reliable, Sun Yingsha is one of four Chinese qualifiers capable of causing an opening round upset. Gu Yuting faces Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.15 seed, He Zhuojia and Wang Yidi both confront opponents from the Korea Republic; the former meets Jeon Jihee, the no.14 seed, the latter opposes Suh Hyowon, the no.9 seed.
European opposition awaits for Gu Yuting; it is the same for colleagues Liu Shiwen and Wang Manyu. In the opening round, Liu Shiwen, the no.3 seed and defending champion, opposes Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, Wang Manyu, no.4 seed, confronts Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska. Not to be left out colleague Ding Ning meets Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu.
Meanwhile, in the men’s doubles event, the respective top two seeds face testing adversaries in the opening round. Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu oppose Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and Yuto Kizukuri; the latter’s colleagues Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima meet China’s Liang Jingkun and Wang Chuqin.
Exacting contests, it may prove very similar in the women’s doubles event, a first round that gives Hina Hayata a chance for revenge. In the preliminary stage of the women’s singles event she lost to Korea Republic’s Yoo Eunchong; in the opening round, partnering Mima Ito and occupying the top seeded position, the duo face Yoo Eunchong and Choi Hyojoo. In the opposite half of the draw, Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu, the no.2 seeds, oppose Chinese Taipei’s Liu Hsing-Yin and Su Pei-Ling.
A testing opening round for Hina Hayata and Mima Ito; in the mixed doubles it is the same, Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem, the top seeds, face Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin and Choi Hyojoo. In the adjacent half of the draw Lee Sangsu and Jeon Jihee confront Austria’s Stefan Fegerl and Sofia Polcanova.
On Thursday 28th March, the first rounds of all events, in addition to the mixed doubles quarter-finals, will be staged.