by Ian Marshall
Meanwhile, in the counterpart women’s singles, the players to raise the eyebrows were Singapore’s Yu Mengyu and Germany’s Han Ying.
It was for Omar Assar a day to remember. He became the first player from an Arabic speaking country to reach the last eight since table tennis was introduced into the prestigious multi-sport gathering in 1988 in Seoul.
The no.28 seed, he accounted for Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the no.6 seed (11-5, 6-11, 8-11, 13-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-8), before later in the day ending the progress of Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.19 seed (11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-7).
Outstanding from Omar Assar, it was the same from Darko Jorgic. Safely through the fourth round the previous day having beaten Great Britain’s Liam Pitchford, the no.11 seed (11-8, 7-11, 12-10, 11-13, 11-9, 12-10); the 23 year old caused the host nation grievous pain, he beat Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.3 seed (10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7).
Success for Darko Jorgic means he is the first Slovenian ever the reach the quarter-finals of a singles event at an Olympic Games.
Hard fought wins but the hardest fought of all was the success secured at the start of the day by Jeoung Youngsik, the no.10 seed. In the third round he claimed victory by the very narrowest of margins in opposition to the Greek defender, Panagiotis Gionis, the no.35 seed (7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, 14-12).
One momentous task completed, in round four he faced another.
He confronted Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.8 seed, a player competing in his sixth consecutive Olympic Games. Respectful of the German’s reputation but totally focused, Jeoung Youngsik succeeded in five games (11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4).
Surprise outcomes, for the remaining five quarter-finalists, life was hard fought but without a stumble.
China’s Fan Zhendong, the top seed, reserved his last eight place courtesy of success against Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.16 seed (11-6, 11-6, 11-2, 5-11, 11-3). In a similar vein, Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, the no.5 seed, ousted Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi, the no.25 seed (11-5, 11-7, 11-2, 9-11, 9-11, 13-11), a player in form. In the third round, he had beaten Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, the no.15 seed (13-15, 11-9, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6).
Eventual defeat for Gustavo Tsuboi but no such travails for his colleague, Hugo Calderano, the no.4 seed. He justified his status by ousting Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin, the no.9 seed (11-7, 9-11, 6-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, 11-6).
A full distance success for the young man from Rio de Janeiro; for Ma Long, the no.2 seed and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.7 seed, it was success in five games.
Ma Long accounted for Frenchman, Simon Gauzy, the no.2 seed (11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5), Dimitrij Ovtcharov ended Japanese men’s singles aspirations; he overcame Koki Niwa, the no.12 seed (11-4, 7-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-9).
Men’s Singles: Quarter-Finals
- 11.00 Fan Zhendong (CHN) v Jeoung Youngsik (KOR)
- 16.00 Darko Jorgic (SLO) v Lin Yun-Ju (TPE)
- 21.00 Hugo Calderano (BRA) v Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER)
- 20.00 Ma Long (CHN) v Omar Assar (EGY)
Notably for first time ever, at the quarter-final stage of any table tennis event at an Olympic Games, four continents are represented.
Surprise men’s singles quarter-finalists, it was the same in the women’s singles but arguably to a lesser degree.
Yu Mengyu was very much the player centre stage. The no.26 seed, she beat Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.4 seed (11-5, 11-9, 12-10, 11-6) prior to ousting Liu Juan of the United States, the no.68 seed (11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8).
At first glance the win against Cheng I-Ching may appear a major upset, not the situation; of their now most recent eight meetings on the international scene, Yu Mengyu has won seven times! The only defeat being in 2010 on the ITTF World Tour in Japan.
Consistently top spin play the formula for Yu Mengyu, for Han Ying it was stalwart defence. The no.12 seed, after accounting for Australia’s Jian Fang Lay, the no.58 seed (11-9, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8), she halted the progress of Feng Tianwei, like Yu Mengyu from Singapore and the no.6 seed (13-11, 11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8).
An upset, again not the scenario; Han Ying had won all four meetings in world ranking events.
Otherwise, the names to reach the last eight were as advised.
China’s Chen Meng, the top seed, beat Canada’s Zhang Mo, the no.21 seed (11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5) to reserve her last eight place. Likewise, Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.8 seed, overcame Britt Eerland of the Netherlands, the no.16 seed (11-13, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8), Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.5 seed, ended the hopes of Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.10 seed (11-8, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9).
Line up completed
Not the be upstaged, in the fourth round, China’s Sun Yingsha, the no.2 seed, defeated Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, the no.13 seed (11-6, 14-12, 11-3, 12-10), Mima Ito, the no.3 seed and like Kazumi Ishikawa from Japan, halted the aspirations of Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut, the no.22 seed (11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7).
Completing the line-up Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee, the no.7 seed, used her speed to good effect to overcome Austria’s Liu Jia, the no.55 seed (11-1, 10-12, 11-3, 11-3, 11-4).
Women’s Singles: Quarter-Finals
- 12.00 Chen Meng (CHN) v Doo Hoi Kem (HKG)
- 10.00 Kasumi Ishikawa (JPN) v Yu Mengyu (SGP)
- 15.00 Mima Ito (JPN) v Jeon Jihee (KOR)
- 17.00 Han Ying (GER) v Sun Yingsha (CHN)
The semi-finals of both the men’s singles and women’s singles events will be played on Thursday 29th July, in addition to the women’s singles bronze and gold medal contests.
In the men’s singles the decisive medal matches will be staged on Friday 29th January.