by Ian Marshall, Editor
In the men’s singles event progress for the seeded names was the exception rather than the rule……..
Seeds fall like pins in a bowling alley
No less than 10 seeded players departed at the expense of qualifiers in the opening round of the men’s singles event; the biggest name to fall being Germany’s Patrick Franziska, the no.4 seed, he was beaten by Japan’s Takuya Jin (11-9, 12-14, 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6).
Success against the odds for Japan, there was more, Yukiya Uda beat Kanak Jha of the United States, the no.12 seed (11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6), Shunsuke Togami overcame Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, the no.15 seed (12-14, 11-8, 11-7, 11-3, 11-9). Conversely, Koki Niwa, the no.5 seed, lost to Germany’s Benedikt Duda (11-9, 11-6, 18-16, 11-8), Jun Mizutani, the no.6 seed, was forced to withdraw through a neck injury when due to face the Czech Republic’s Pavel Sirucek
Good form Benedikt Duda, it was the same from colleague, Qiu Dang. He overcame Frenchman Simon Gauzy, the no.8 seed (14-16, 6-11, 15-13, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-8). Also Robert Gardos balanced the books for Austria. He accounted for Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.7 seed (11-3, 15-13, 14-12, 11-7).
Not to be outdone Poland’s Jakub Dyjas beat Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.13 seed (7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5), Panagiotis Gionis of Greece defeated the host nation’s Bence Majoros, the no.16 seed (8-11, 10-12, 11-2, 11-6, 14-12, 11-6). Meanwhile, Frenchman Alexandre Cassin secured the biggest scalp of his career. He ended the hopes of Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.10 seed (11-1, 12-10, 7-11, 11-4, 12-10).
Top names negotiate opening round
The very top names in the men’s singles event enjoyed opening round success but in contrasting fashions. Tomokazu Harimoto recorded a straight games win against Slovakia’s Wang Yang (11-6, 11-4, 11-5, 11-9); Brazil’s Hugo Calderano eventually overcame Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hang (11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 7-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-5).
In the women’s singles, there were no such problems for Mima Ito or Kasumi Ishikawa. Mima Ito beat Luxembourg’s Ni Xia Lian (12-10, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9); Kasumi Ishikawa overcame colleague, Haruna Ojio (11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7).
A surprise defeat in the men’s singles for Wong Chun Ting but in both the men’s doubles and mixed doubles, in each instance the top seed, it was success. In the former partnering Ho Kwan, there was an opening round win against Romania’s Cristian Pletea and Rares Sipos (11-8, 11-7, 11-8); in the latter on duty with Doo Hoi Kem, it was it was success in opposition to Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz (11-2, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10).
Keeping her nerve
India’s Manika Batra was very much the player of the day; without doubt the player to keep focused when crisis loomed.
Required to qualify, in the opening round of the mixed doubles event, partnering compatriot Sharath Kamal Achanta, the duo recovered from a two games to one deficit to beat Hungary’s Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel the no.5 seeds (11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7), the pair that one year earlier had reached the final, losing to China’s Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen.
Later in the day Manika Batra performed an even more dramatic recovery and caused an even bigger upset. She lost the first three games against Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, the no.11 seed, stood on the precipice of defeat in the fourth, before eventually winning a nail-biting seventh (9-11, 4-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7, 14-12)
Europe Top 16 champions depart
Winners at the most recent Europe Top 16 tournaments, Romania’s Bernadette Szocs in 2018, Germany’s Petrissa Solja in 2019 and earlier this year, both departed in the opening round of the women’s singles event.
Bernadette Szocs, the no.7 seed, lost to Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto (11-6, 11-6, 12-10, 11-7), Petrissa Solja was beaten by colleague Nina Mittelham (11-3, 11-8, 11-5, 3-11, 4-11, 11-4).
Meanwhile for those who had suffered at the hands of Petrissa Solja earlier this month at CCB Europe Top 16 there was notable success; they caused upsets. Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, who had experienced a semi-final defeat, beat Lily Zhang of the United States, the no.12 seed (11-5, 11-3, 13-11, 6-11, 11-7); Britt Eerland of the Netherlands, the beaten finalist, overcame Hungary’s Dora Madarasz, the no.16 seed (11-3, 11-3, 11-7, 11-6).
Battle for Tokyo
Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic made his intentions known and came a step closer to the avowed goal; that of a place in the mixed doubles event with his compatriot Izabela Lupulesku at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The no.6 seed, after recording a straight games win against Tristan Flore and Laura Gasnier of France (12-10, 13-11, 12-10), the duo secured a nail-biting full distance five games win in opposition to Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Lee Ho Ching, the no.4 seeds (11-7, 3-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-7).
A total of five pairs, with a maximum of one per National Olympic Committee, qualify as a result of their performances on the 2020 ITTF World Tour. The event comprises a total of 16 pairs, only one pair per National Olympic Committee permitted.
India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the leading pair on qualification men’s doubles duty booked their main draw place as did Romania’s Irina Ciobanu and Elizabeta Samara in the women’s doubles. Similarly, in the mixed doubles there was progress for the top pair, Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic and Izabela Lupulesku.