by Kabir Nagpal
The stage is set for what will be a cracking set of knockout round matches. Let us walk you through the key battles, stats and more.
Lin Yun-Ju vs Patrick Franziska
The Chinese Taipei prodigy Lin Yun-Ju is set to face Germany’s Patrick Franziska in the first knockout round, with the two having met once before at the T2 Diamond in December 2019. Lin came out on top in that meeting, but this time around things could be very different. Franziska has dropped just one game on his way to the main draw, and will be a completely different proposition in the next round.
Jang Woojin vs Koki Niwa
The 12th seed from Korea Republic Jang Woojin is up against fellow Asian colleague in Koki Niwa, who is seeded 8th. The ‘King of Block’ is very unpredictable and – even though he has previously lost to Woojin in their one encounter at the men’s team event at the 2017 Asian Championships – there may be no telling what the Japanese may be able to pull off.
Wong Chun Ting vs Mattias Falck
2019 World Championship runner-up Mattias Falck will have to overcome the challenge of Wong Chun Ting in the round of 16, as the Swedish athlete will want to make sure he approaches this world event like he did the one in Budapest. For the Hong Kong China athlete there is much to be optimistic about, as he has won three of their four meetings despite losing the most recent one at the 2019 Hong Kong Open.
Hugo Calderano vs Jeoung Youngsik
The pride of Brazil is about to play against Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik in what is set to be a battle of the backhands! Hugo Calderano certainly has the edge, as he previously beat Youngsik at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Austrian Open. Given the manner in which Youngsik reached the round of 16, an ‘upset’ may be the order of play tomorrow.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs Liam Pitchford
The former World Cup winner, Dimitrij Ovtcharov is seeded 7th and will face rising in prominence Liam Pitchford, seeded 10th. Germany’s Ovtcharov has won three of their four meetings – however Englishman Pitchford is playing at a new level ever since he reached the final in March at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open.
Fan Zhendong vs Chuang Chih-Yuan
The world no.1 will have his first challenge on his path to history as Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan. Fan Zhendong is the top seed at the event, and with good reason – the Chinese is the double defending champion and within reach of winning an unprecedented fourth World Cup. For Chuang, scaling the mountain that is Fan Zhendong would be more than an upset – it would be shock.
Ma Long vs Darko Jorgic
The Dragon will be looking to roar into his World Cup campaign as he faces the unlikely qualifier from Slovenia, Darko Jorgic. Ma Long has clearly unfinished business from last year when he finished fourth, and standing in his path first will see Jorgic try to do the impossible – will the European tame the Dragon?
Tomokazu Harimoto v Robert Gardos
Finally, it’s a classic battle between experience versus youthful exuberance as Robert Gardos faces Tomokazu Harimoto, the runner-up from 2019. Austrian veteran Gardos will certainly be depending on his long years in the sport to come up with something special against the Japanese superstar teenager. As for Harimoto, he will need to make sure he is in the mood – Gardos will be eager to exploit any weakness he finds.