by Simon Daish
The highest seeded player involved in group stage action, Romania’s Bernadette Szocs has been placed in Group A and could potentially be set for a tough start to her campaign in Chengdu with Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz and USA’s Lily Zhang.
Szocs and Diaz have never met face-to-face on the table while the Romanian’s last encounter with Zhang came in an Under 21 contest back in 2015. This promises to be a tight race for the main draw.
For Jeon Jihee there is also a sense of unknown on the horizon with the sole Korea Republic representative set to meet Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Poland’s Natalia Partyka in Group B on her Women’s World Cup debut.
Jeon’s only previous fixture against Meshref came eight years back at the 2011 Morocco Open and the Korean has never stood opposite Partyka on the international stage. Out of the three players involved in Group B only Meshref has appeared in the last 16 of the competition.
Another well balanced group sees Germany’s Petrissa Solja joined by Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Australia’s Jian Fang Lay.
Solja and Chen undoubtedly head into the group as favourites to progress but rule out Lay at your own peril – the 46-year-old carries the hopes of Oceania on her shoulders and defied the odds to reach the Round of 16 last year in Chengdu – can she do it again?
The fourth and final group sees Romania’s Elizabeta Samara welcome opposition from two North American stars in Canada’s Zhang Mo and USA’s Wu Yue.
2015 European champion Samara will fancy her chances of successfully negotiating the group stage but it is the head-to-head contest between Zhang and Wu that perhaps holds the most intrigue. Their three previous meetings have all favoured the Canadian but Wu will be extra determined to avoid the same outcome this time out as she chases her first Women’s World Cup victory.