by Ian Marshall
Matters level after four matches in the first round men’s team contest between Brazil, the no.6 seeds and Serbia, the no.15 seeds, the 25 year old from São Paulo beat Dimitrije Levajac (11-6, 11-6, 14-12) to send teammates into unbridled delight.
Hugo Calderano remained unbeaten, but he was severely tested, on both occasions he needed the full five games to achieve success. In the second match of the engagement, he accounted for Dimitrije Levajac (11-8, 11-13, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5), before in the fourth match of the fixture, securing a similar margin of victory against Zsolt Peto (11-9, 11-4, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8).
Alas for Gustavo Tsuboi, life was difficult. In the doubles, partnering Vitor Ishiy the duo lost to Marko Jevtovic and Zsolt Peto, a pair that has been together for two decades (11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8). Later, he experienced agonizing defeat when facing Marko Jevtovic (11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 6-11, 15-13).
Simon Gauzy pivotal for France
Success for the higher seeded team, it was the same in the remaining opening round men’s team fixtures but without such drama; the player to attract the attention being Simon Gauzy.
France, the no.8 seeds, recorded a 3-0 margin of victory against Hong Kong, the no.11 seeds; the contribution afforded by Simon Gauzy pivotal.
After Alexandre Cassin, playing in his first ever match in an Olympic Games had partnered Emmanuel Lebesson to doubles success against Ho Kwan Kit and Lam Siu Hang (12-10, 11-8, 11-6); Simon Gauzy overcame Wong Chun Ting (11-5, 7-11, 14-12, 11-9).
It was the first time in his career, he had beaten Wong Chun Ting. He had lost all three matches prior matches. On the ITTF World Tour he had experienced defeat in Hungary (2012), Czech Republic (2015) and China (2019).
Emmanuel Lebesson (overcame Ho Kwan Kit to conclude matters (12-10, 11-5, 11-4).
Slovenia defeat but spirited performance
A fine effort from Simon Gauzy, it was the same from Bojan Tokic. Slovenia, the no.12 seeds experienced a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Korea Republic, the no.4 seeds but the now 40 year old could be well pleased with his efforts. He beat Jeoung Youngsik (9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 12-10) in the third match of the fixture; a win of note, on the current men’s world rankings Bojan Tokic is listed at no.66, Jeoung Youngsik at no.13.
Now very much a name to note, Darko Jorgic, who had beaten Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.3 seed in the men’s singles, came close against Jang Woojin, he extended the world no.12 the full seven games (7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5). Presently, Darko Jorgic is listed at no.28 in the global order.
Earlier, Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu had given Korea Republic, the ideal start; they beat Deni Kozul and Bojan Tokic (11-8, 11-8, 11-6). Notably, Jang Woojin remained unbeaten, additionally, he overcame Deni Kozul to bring matters to a conclusion (11-6, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8).
Tense moments, in the remaining first round fixtures, it was success for the favourites without hiccups.
China, the top seeds, with Fan Zhendong, Ma Long and Xu Xin on duty recorded a 3-0 win against the no.13 seeds, Egypt’s Omar Assar, Khaled Assar and Ahmed Saleh.
Similarly, by the same margin, the no.7 seeds, Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, Chuang Chih-Yuan and Lin Yun-Ju overcame the no.10 seeds, Croatia’s Andrej Gacina and Frane Kojic and Tomislav Pucar.
Not to be overshadowed, the no.2 seeds, Germany’s Timo Boll, Patrick Franziska and Dimitrij Ovtcharov recorded a 3-0 win in opposition to Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, Marcos Freitas and João Monteiro.
Imposing performances, in the women’s team first round fixtures enacted on the ninth day of play, it was a similar scenario, the one exception being Brazil, the no.15 seeds, they posed questions for Hong Kong, the no.4 seeds.
Against the odds Caroline Kumahara beat Lee Ho Ching (11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 9-11, 11-6). Currently, on the women’s world rankings, Caroline Kumahara stands at no.144, Lee Ho Ching at no.45.
However, it was to be Brazil’s only success. Lee Ho Ching and Minnie Soo Wai Yam gave Hong Kong the ideal start; they beat Caroline Kumahara and Jessica Yamada in straight games (11-9, 11-8, 11-9).
Underlining her quality, Doo Hoi Kem remained unbeaten. She accounted for Bruna Takahashi the second match (11-3, 14-12, 11-7), before overcoming Jessica Yamada to end proceedings (11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10).
Otherwise, it was a series of comprehensive outcomes.
Wang Manyu made her Olympic Games debut. She replaced Liu Shiwen in the Chinese women’s team, the reigning world champion suffering from a recurring shoulder injury. Alongside Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha, the top seeds, a 3-0 win was recorded against the no.12 seeds, Austria’s Liu Jia, Liu Juan and Sofia Polcanova.
Victory in style without a single match surrendered, it was the same for the no.3 seeds, the Germany trio comprising Han Ying, Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja. They were in determined mood when opposing the no.16 seeds, Australia’s Michelle Bromley, Jian Fang Lay and Melissa Tapper.
Earlier in the day, the 3-0 result had been matched by the no.8 seeds Romania’s Daniela Monteiro Dodean, Elizabeta Samara and Bernadette Szocs. They showed no charity when opposing the no.14 seeds, Egypt’s Farah Abdelaziz, Yousra Helmy and Dina Meshref.
Likewise, the no.5 seed, by the same margin, Chinese Taipei with Cheng Hsien-Tzu, Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng I-Ching in action, secured a 3-0 success in opposition the no.9 seeds, the United States combination of Liu Juan, Wang Huijing and Lily Zhang.
Not to be overshadowed, the no.2 seeds, Japan’s Miu Hirano, Kasumi Ishikawa and Mima Ito were in the fast lane against the no.10 seeds, Hungary’s Maria Fazekas, Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel.
First round concludes
The remaining first round matches in the men’s team event, Japan, no.3 seeds, versus Australia, the no.16 seeds, and Sweden, the no.5 seeds, in opposition to the United States, the no.14 seeds, will be played on Monday 2nd August.
Likewise in the women’s team competition, Singapore, the no.6 seeds, versus France the no.13 seeds, in addition to Korea Republic, the no.7 seeds, against Poland, the no.11 seeds, will conclude the opening round fixtures.
Quarter-final contests will follow.