by Ian Marshall, Editor
Moreover, one player, who has occupied the top spot on the world rankings, is destined to depart. In the second round of the men’s singles event China’s Ma Long faces Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov; history does not bode well for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Ma Long has won all 14 meetings in world ranking events but there is always a first time and last week in Busan, Ma Long was below his best.
Equally, Fan Zhendong has not been firing on all cylinders, likewise in round two he faces German opposition; the top seed, he confronts Patrick Franziska.
A quarter-final place for Europe; there is more than one option. Sweden’s Mattias Falck opposes Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin, Portugal’s Marcos Freitas confronts Brazil’s Hugo Calderano. Similarly, England’s Liam Pitchford meets China’s Wang Chuqin, Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, presently in a rich vein of form, confronts Liang Jingkun.
No doubt Liang Jingkun starts the favourite as do his colleagues in their second round men’s singles clashes. Lin Gaoyuan opposes Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu; Xu Xin confronts Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju. Notably Xu Xin beat Lin Yun-Ju last month in the final in Sapporo; can Lin Yun-Ju reverse the decision? Unquestionably he possesses the talent.
Testing challenges for formidable Chinese names; in the women’s singles event, of the nation’s elite, does Chen Meng, the top seed, not face the sternest challenge of all? She opposes colleague, Mu Zi, semi-finalist at the Qoros 2015 World Championships.
Rather differently for Ding Ning and Sun Yingsha, they start as clear favourites in their second round women’s singles contests. Ding Ning plays Korea Republic’s Choi Hyojoo, Sung Yingsha confronts Japan’s Shiho Matsudaira. Equally, whatever world rankings may read, do colleagues Li Jiayi, Sun Mingyang and the pen-holder Zhang Qiang start as favourites?
Like Ding Ning both Li Jiayi and Zhang Qiang face tough Korea Republic opponents but they appear to be in form; Li Jiayi faces Jeon Jihee, Zhang Qiang confronts Suh Hyowon. Rather differently, Sun Mingyang opposes Austria’s Yui Hamamoto.
Places await China in the last eight; it is the same for Japan; in the second round of the women’s singles event, Kasumi Ishikawa meets Hitomi Sato, Mima Ito faces Miu Hirano.
Meanwhile, in the men’s doubles event, it is difficult to look beyond Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, the 2017 World champions; they face Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting in the quarter-finals. The winner of the contest opposes the victor in the engagement between Lin Gaoyuan and Ma Long in opposition to Sweden’s Mattias Falck and Kristian Karlsson awaits.
Top seeds, Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu meet Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Ricardo Walther; success and colleagues Jang Woojin and Lim Jonghoon could be the semi-final opponents. They oppose India’s Amalraj Anthony and Sathyan Gnanasekaran for a place in the penultimate round.
Equally, in the women’s doubles, Chen Meng and Wang Manyu, the top seeds, are favourites for a place in the final. In the quarter-final round they meet Miu Hirano and Saki Shibata; success and a further Japanese pair could await in the semi-final, in the round of the last eight Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki face Australia’s Jee Minhyung and Jian Fang.
China in contention; in the opposite half of the draw eyes focus on Korea Republic. Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun oppose Singapore’s Lin Ye and Yu Mengyu, Choi Hyojoo and Lee Eunhye face the European combination of Romania’s Bernadette Szocs and Spain’s Maria Xiao.
Likewise, in the mixed doubles, the Korea Republic is in focus. Lee Sangsu and Jeon Jihee play Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova; the winners confronting the successful pair in the all Hong Kong duel. In the same half of the draw Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem meet Ho Kwan Kit and Lee Ho Ching.
Winners last week in Busan, Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem form a combination of note, as in the opposite half of the draw does that of Chinese Lin-Yun and Cheng I-Ching, the leaders on the Standings who could well renew acquaintances. Last week in Busan they were beaten in the opening round by Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito; in Geelong they could meet in the semi-finals.
At the quarter-final stage Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching meet the French partnership formed by Tristan Flore and Laura Gasnier, Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito oppose Australia’s Heming Hu and Melissa Tapper.
A full day ahead, it is not to be missed.