24 Aug 2019

Old rivalries were rekindled, new hopes emerged and there was even a hint of déjà vu in the air on Friday 23rd August at the ITTF World Tour Czech Open in Olomouc.

Here’s how things played out:

Men’s singles

…Good friends and lions of the game, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Vladimir Samsonov met in the round of 16 but it was Ovtcharov who cut Samsonov down 4-1 (11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7) to advance to the quarter-finals. The secret to his success might have been his ability to look across the table and see not the friend but the rival, Ovtcharov reflected afterward; that, plus winning a pivotal fourth game.

…The capable Patrick Franziska celebrated his first career victory against Jun Mizutani, one of his heroes, in a 4-3 stunner (10-12, 11-6, 13-15, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-1) in which he returned from 1-3 to overcome the Japanese star. Franziska, who flies the German colours alongside Ovtcharov and Timo Boll, has been playing especially well these past few months and is potentially the breakout star of Olomouc.

…Among the established stars of Olomouc is Boll. He needed just half an hour to beat Japan’s Yukiya Uda en route to the quarter-finals (11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7). Other commitments have kept Boll off the ITTF World Tour for two months, but they’ve also clearly kept him in excellent form. 

…A day after ejecting top seed Tomokazu Harimoto, Romania’s Cristian Pletea was himself eliminated by Japan’s Yuki Hirano. He emerged as the winner following a seven game joust. For a moment it looked like Pletea would continue his thrilling run — he went up 3-1 following a a marvellous three game run — but Hirano came back with four of his own to seal the match 4-3 (11-7, 6-11, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4).

…It was a tough day for the surging Marcos Freitas of Portugal, who saw his run of excellence cut short by Lin Yun-Ju, the talented young player from Chinese Taipei, who defeated Freitas 4-2 (11-4, 11-6, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8).

Women’s singles

…After a rocky start to her main draw, Kasumi Ishikawa was far more stable on day two, sliding to victory over China’s Liu Xi 4-2 (11-6, 11-4, 10-12, 11-2, 9-11, 11-7). 

…China continues to show off its class and depth, having placed no fewer than four players — He Zhuojia, Liu Weishan, Feng Yalan and Chen Xingtong in the quarter-finals. Standout match from the Chinese today was Liu Weishan’s decisive 4-0 defeat of Singapore’s Feng Tianwei (11-9, 11-5, 11-8, 11-3). A new star emerges?

…Japan’s Miu Hirano stopped the surge of Czech hopeful Hana Matelova with a 4-0 win of her own (11-9, 11-9, 11-2, 11-8), while Korea Republc’s Jeon Jihee was the only other player to win in straight games, her victory coming over teammate Suh Hyowon (12-10, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9).

….Sofia Polcanova’s point-for-point drawdown with Saki Shibata was déjà vu for the Austrian, who did the same thing two years ago at the Czech Open playing against Shibata. The two were 3-3 and 9-9 in the seventh game when Polcanova pulled ahead, winning the two points she needed to secure the 4-3 win (11-7, 8-11, 6-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9). She won 11-9 in the seventh game back in 2017 as well.

Men’s doubles

…Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi pulled off one of the surprises of the day, making quick work of Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet in a match that lasted just 25 minutes (11-5, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7), but the Hungarians were defeated in their turn by Liao Cheng-Ting and Lin Yun-Ju, who won 3-0 (11-7, 11-8, 11-9) to move on to the final.

…A valiant effort from Austria’s Daniel Habesohn and Robert Gardos to make the final came up just short against Cho Daeseong and Lee Sangsu, who prevailed 3-2 in the semi-final to earn the right to face Liao and Lin in the title match (9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7).

Women’s doubles

… Japan’s Miu Hirano and Saki Shibata are in the final, though they were pushed to the limit by Poland’s Natalia Bajor and Natalia Partyka in the quarter-finals. Only during the last moment of the fifth game did the Japanese do what they had to for a 3-2 victory (9-11, 11-2, 11-4, 9-11, 11-9). The Japanese duo had an easier time against Koreans Kim Hayeong and Lee Eunhye in the semi, winning 3-1 (7-11, 11-8, 11-7, 12-10).

…Gu Yuting and Mu Zi cruised past Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tzu to earn their own spot in the final with a decisive 3-0 victory (11-6, 11-7, 11-7).

Mixed doubles

…It’ll be a Korea and Japan matchup in the final, as Shin Yubin and Cho Daeseong face off against Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito. Shin and Cho swept past Austrians Stefan Fegerl and Sofia Polcanova in their semi (11-6, 11-5, 11-9), while Mizutani and Ito easily defeated Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi and Bruna Takahashi 11-9, 11-6, 11-2.

World Tour Czech Open 2019 Czech Open Mima Ito Timo Boll Dimitrij Ovtcharov Jun Mizutani Patrick Franziska Sofia Polcanova

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Day 4 - 2019 ITTF World Tour Czech Open

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Day 4 - Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Czech Open