Following a two-day qualification phase, the stage is set for the main event to take place between Thursday 22nd and Sunday 25th August 2019.
Who will be the big winners this time around, you ask? Here’s a look at some of the key contenders…
History made. Now what for Harimoto?
Fresh from his men’s singles success at last week’s Bulgaria Open, Tomokazu HARIMOTO (JPN) is seeking consecutive titles on the ITTF World Tour in Olomouc.
The Japanese star has fond memories of the Czech Open: the scene of his very first triumph on the ITTF World Tour in August 2017, when he became the youngest ever singles champion in the history of the competition at just 14 years and 61 days of age.
The surprise package back then, this time Harimoto enters as top seed and the favourite to claim the honours again; albeit he will likely face stiffer competition for silverware than in Bulgaria.
An eye-catching quarter-final against Chinese Taipei’s fast-emerging talent, Lin Yun-Ju, could well be on the cards if the in-form 9th seed and T2 Diamond Malaysia champion can get past a potential meeting with 5th seed Koki NIWA (JPN) in the previous round.
Boll and Calderano back in contention
Timo BOLL (GER) is back after a two-month absence from the World Tour. The 38-year-old legend and 3rd seed leads Europe’s challenge for what would be the continent’s first singles title on this year’s World Tour.
Fellow Germans, Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (4th seed) and Patrick FRANZISKA (10th) could potentially meet at the quarter-final stage, while the likes of Liam PITCHFORD (ENG), Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR) and Simon GAUZY (FRA) will also be fighting Europe’s corner in Czech Republic, who have Pavel SIRUCEK representing the host nation.
Hugo CALDERANO (BRA) enters as 2nd seed and is bidding for his first ever ITTF World Tour title, off the back of his gold medal at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games earlier this month.
Will Japan win first women’s singles title of 2019?
As in Bulgaria, the leading women’s seeds in Olomouc hail from the Land of the Rising Sun: Japanese trio, Kasumi ISHIKAWA, Mima ITO and Miu HIRANO occupy the top three positions, the former aiming to retain her 2018 Czech Open crown.
However, Chinese duo HE Zhuojia (6th) and CHEN Xingtong (11th) will have their own designs on the direction of medals. The Bulgaria Open finalists could face off again in another showdown this Sunday; or will this be the time that another nation’s female representative breaks up China’s monopoly on this year’s ITTF World Tour?
Korea Republic’s key challengers, SUH Hyowon (4th) and JEON Jihee (9th) could meet as early as the round of 16. FENG Tianwei (SGP) offers experience to the main draw. Europe’s seeds come in the form of Sofia POLCANOVA (AUT), Petrissa SOLJA (GER) and the host nation’s Hana MATELOVA (CZE), while Adriana DIAZ (PUR) will be hoping to build on her glorious triple crown at the Pan American Games.
Diaz sisters join doubles party…
LEE Sangsu and JEON Jihee (KOR) are top seeds in a competitive mixed doubles line-up, which also features 2019 European champions Patrick FRANZISKA and Petrissa SOLJA (GER).
An all-Japanese showdown is the pick of the first round matches: Tomokazu HARIMOTO and Kasumi ISHIKAWA (JPN) will be keen to bounce back from their semi-final defeat in Bulgaria against eventual champions Mima ITO and Jun MIZUTANI.
Puerto Rican sisters Adriana and Melania DIAZ are hoping to light up the women’s doubles after their recent heroics in Lima, winning Pan American Games gold.
HO Kwan Kit and WONG Chun Ting (HKG) are favourites for the men’s doubles title, but could face a tough final against LIN Yun-Ju and LIAO Cheng-Ting (TPE).
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