by Ian Marshall, Editor
An innovative format, seven game matches, each game the first player to secure 11 points and should the clock reach 24 minutes, each ensuing game alternate services, first player to reach five points; Wang Manyu, the no.4 seed, recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Zhu Yuling, the no.11 seed, in seven games (10-11, 5-11, 10-11, 1-5, 5-4, 5-0, 5-4).
Notably, the contest took 24 minutes to complete the first three games; both attacking players the fact pays great credit to the high consistency level which both possess, neither powerful but able to keep the ball on the table longer the most mortals.
Success for Wang Manyu as status advised, it was the same for colleague Chen Xingtong but not for Wang Yidi. Chen Xingtong, the no.5 seed, beat Singapore’s Yu Mengyu, the no.16 seed (11-7, 11-5, 11-5, 9-11, 3-5, 5-4) and thus repeated the success she had enjoyed on the one other occasion when the confronted each other at the 2017 ITTF World Tour Australian Open.
Conversely for Wang Yidi, the no.8 seed, it was defeat at the hands of the classic defensive skills of Japan’s Hitomi Sato, the no.3 seed (11-8, 11-8, 11-10, 3-5, 5-3); a win for Hitomi Sato somewhat against the odds. Last year they played twice in Hong Kong, in both women’s singles and under 21 women’s singles events, as well as in Bulgaria; Wang Yidi won all three encounters.
Progress for Hitomi Sato means that Japan is guaranteed a women’s singles semi-final place; she now meets Mima Ito, the no.3 seed, the opening round winner in opposition to compatriot Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.9 seed (11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8, 5-3).
Furthermore, could there be an all-Japanese semi-final? In the same half of the draw in the opening round, Miu Hirano, the no.7 seed, plays Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee, the no.15 seed, the winner meets either China’s Chen Meng, the no.2 seed or Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the no.10 seed.
In the opposite half of the draw, an all Chinese quarter-final line-up is more than a possibility. Chen Xingtong plays Wang Manyu; in the opening round Ding Ning, the no.6 seed, confronts He Zhuojia, the no.12 seed, Sun Yingsha, the top seed, plays Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.14 seed.
Injury forces Wong Chun Ting exit
A reversal of Johor Bahru fortunes, it was the same in the men’s singles; in the third place match, China’s Xu Xin had beaten Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting. In the first round in Singapore he did the same, only in an anti-climactic scenario; having lost the opening two games, in the third Wong Chun Ting slipped, damaged his ankle and could not continue (11-6, 11-1, w/o).
Headway, a place in the second round for Xu Xin as expected, it was the same for Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.3 seed; he accounted for Singapore’s Clarence Chew, the no.16 seed (11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 11-10, 5-2).
Wins anticipated, in the remaining opening round matches completed on the first day of action, the outcomes were arguably unexpected. Germany’s Patrick Franziska, the no.6 seed, beat Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu, the no.13 seed (11-2, 11-10, 11-10, 4-11, 5-3), a player against whom in all five previous matches on the international stage he had experienced defeat.
Similarly, in the contest that brought the day to an end, Koki Niwa added to Japanese joy; the no.15 seed, he ended the hopes of Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the no.7 seed (11-10, 8-11, 11-6, 3-11, 5-3, 5-2). The win reversed the decision of less than a week earlier; at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum bet-at-home.com Austrian Open in Linz, Hugo Calderano had emerged successful in their quarter-final engagement.
Again place guaranteed for Japan
Notably, just as in the women’s singles, the wins recorded by Tomokazu Harimoto and Koki Niwa mean that Japan is guaranteed a semi-final place. They meet in the last eight, a possible penultimate round opponent being Xu Xin; he faces the winner of the contest between colleague, Liang Jingkun, the no.5 seed and Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik.
Meanwhile, still to be completed in the lower half of the draw, China’s Lin Gaoyuan, the no.2 seed, opposes Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the no.9 seed; defending champion, Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, the no.4 seed, confronts Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin, the no.12 seed, the winner plays Patrick Franziska.
The opening round matches in both the men’s singles and women’s singles events conclude on Friday 22nd November.