25 Jul 2021

Crowds may be missing in the Metropolitan Gymnasium at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games but on the evening of the second day of action, Sunday 25th July, muted but heartfelt, the host nation had good reason to celebrate. Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito booked their place in the mixed doubles final.

by Ian Marshall

At the semi-final stage they accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching the no.3 seeds (11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6), after earlier in the day having recorded a dramatic full distance quarter-final success in opposition to Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja, the no.7 seeds (11-8, 5-11, 3-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8, 16-14).

In the final they meet China’s Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen, the top seeds. In the round of the last eight pairs, they ousted Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs, the no.9 seeds (11-6, 11-1, 11-6, 12-10), prior overcoming the French pairing of Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jianan, the no.8 seeds (11-5, 11-6, 13-11, 11-7).

Earlier in the day Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jianan had caused a major upset; they overcame Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem, the no.4 seeds (11-3, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 13-11).

The performances of the European pairs were not to be anticipated. At the recent Liebherr 2020 European Individual Championships staged earlier this year in late June in Warsaw, Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja experienced a quarter-final defeat at the hands of the French combination of Simon Gauzy and Prithika Pavade (11-9, 12-10, 12-10); one round later Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jianan lost to Germany’s Qiu Dang and Nina Mittelham (14-12, 11-7, 4-11, 5-11, 13-11).


Landmark wins

Disappointment for Hong Kong in the mixed doubles, it was the opposite emotion in the second round of the men’s singles, Lam Siu Hang, the man in form. The no.50 seed, he beat India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, no.26 seed (11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 5-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-6).

Similarly, Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall upset the order, the no.36 seed overcame Austria’s Robert Gardos, no.17 seed and highest ranked player in round two (13-11, 6-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-6). It was the first time on the international stage when Paul Drinkhall had beaten Robert Gardos, he had lost the previous four!

A landmark win for Paul Drinkhall, it was the same for Kirill Gerassimenko. The no.30 seed, he won the first ever match for Kazakhstan in the table tennis events at an Olympic Games. The no.30 seed, he overcame the Czech Republic’s Lubomir Jancarik, the no.41 seed (3-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 2-11, 11-9, 11-4). On debut in Rio 2016, he had been beaten in his opening match by Hungary’s Adam Pattantyus (11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9).

Defeat contrary to status for Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Robert Gardos, for Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic and Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan it was success as predicted but mightily close.

The no.18 seed Darko Jorgic overcame Spain’s Alvaro Robles, the no.42 seed (11-2, 12-10, 5-11, 9-11, 5-11, 15-13, 11-8); Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.19 seed, now 40 years old, fourth place in London 2012, eventually ended the aspirations Argentina’s 23 year old Horacio Cifuentes, the no.44 seed.

Chuang Chih-Yuan prevailed in seven games (5-11, 11-3, 13-11, 9-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7).


Generation game

Meanwhile, in the second round of the women’s singles event, Korea Republic’s Shin Yubin, 17 years old, won the battle of the generations and upset the odds.

The no.44 seed, she beat Luxembourg’s 58 year old Ni Xialian, the no.24 seed (2-11, 19-17, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5).

Likewise, Switzerland’s Rachel Moret, India’s Manika Batra, Thailand’s Orawan Paranang and Yuan Jianan caused upsets.

Rachel Moret, the no.48 seed, accounted for Hungary’s Georgina Pota, the no.30 seed (11-9, 14-12, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9); Manika Batra, the reigning Commonwealth Games champion and no.34 seed, overcame Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, the no.20 seed (4-11, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7).

Not to be overshadowed, Orawan Paranang, the no.49 seed, accounted for the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova, the no.29 seed (9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8), Yuan Jianan the no.46 seed, ended the hopes of Bruna Takahashi (BRA) 11-8, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8).


First African

Notable performances but pride of place goes to Egypt’s Dina Meshref.

The leading name on second day duty, the no.19 seed, she defeated Poland’s Natalia Partyka, the no.47 seed (15-13, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4, 7-11, 13-11) and thus set records.

She becomes the first player from Africa and the first from an Arabic speaking country to reach the third round of the women’s singles event at an Olympic Games.

The second round in both the men’s singles and women’s singles events will be completed on Monday 26th July, the date on which in each discipline the third round will commence.

Additionally, the gold and bronze mixed doubles matches will be played.

General News 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

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