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Friday 21st April


Seeds stumble, Zeng Jian and Hina Hayata cause second round upsets

Winner of the Under 21 Women’s Singles title earlier this year in Hungary; Singapore’s Zeng Jian was the player to cause the biggest upset as matters concluded in the second round of the Women’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Korea Open in Incheon on the afternoon on Friday 21st April.

The no.13 seed, she accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.3 seed, in a full distance seven games contest (8-11, 5-11, 11-9, 20-18, 11-5, 6-11, 11-4).

Success against expectations for Zeng Jian but she was not alone; Hina Hayata also upset the pecking order as Japanese players imposed their authority on proceedings.

Hina Hayata, the no.12 seed, beat Germany’s Shan Xiaona, the no.7 seed (11-6, 14-16, 13-11, 12-10, 11-5) and thus underlined her capability of being able to adapt the different styles of play.

Shan Xiaona is a right handed pen-hold grip player, short pimpled rubber, staying close to the table; it is a style even in Japan that Hina Hayata will rarely have confronted and one that was already out of fashion before the 16 year old Japanese teenager was born.

Victory for Hina Hayata means that at the very least, Japan is guaranteed a place in the Women’s Singles semi-finals; in fact judging by current form, a place in the final is a distinct possibility.

The only player who can prevent such a scenario is Zeng Jian who, in the round of the last eight confronts the in-form player of the moment. She meets, Miu Hirano, the no.5 seed; in the second round the newly crowned Asian champion overcame the host nation’s Yang Haeun, the no.6 seed (11-3, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6).

Meanwhile, for Hina Hayata; compatriot Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.2 seed, awaits. She booked her last eight place courtesy of success in an all-Japanese duel against Sakura Mori, the no.16 seed (8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 13-11, 11-2).

The quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Women’s Singles event will be played on Saturday 22nd April.

Fast learner, for a second time Minami Ando reverses Thailand decision

Present on home soil in Japan last year but no place in the main draw, her only other ITTF World Tour appearance; Minami Ando reached new heights on the early afternoon of Friday 21st April at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Korea Open in Incheon.

She overcame the defensive skills of colleague, Honoka Hashimoto (11-5, 11-13, 11-4, 11-5, 11-6), to reserve her place in the Women’s Singles quarter-finals.

The win underlines the immense depth of talent in current Japanese female ranks; also it endorses the fact, Minami Ando is a fast learner.

Last year in Japan, Minami Ando was beaten by Portugal’s Shao Jieni in the preliminary stage of the Women’s Singles event (11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8). Notably, later in the year, she emerged successful at the Finlandia Open in Lohja; she accounted for Russia’s Antonina Savelyeva (11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8,11-4) in the title deciding contest.


Signs of progress, but even more definitive signs this year; in the final of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event at the ITTF Challenge Thailand Open in Bangkok some three weeks ago, she was beaten by colleague Saki Shibata in the final (11-6, 7-11, 9-11, 11-2, 11-8).


In the final in Incheon, she overcame Saki Shibata to secure the title (11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6).


Also, in Thailand, she experienced defeat at the hands of Honoka Hashimoto (12-10, 11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6); the round exactly the same as in Incheon, the second round. Now once again Minami Ando has reversed the Bangkok verdict; quick learner.


Minami Ando now meets Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the top seed, in the last eight; in the same half of the draw, Korea’s Choi Hyojoo confronts Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu.


In the second round of proceedings, Feng Tianwei accounted for the host nation’s Jeon Jihee, the no.9 seed (11-5, 11-13, 11-4, 11-5, 11-6) and thus maintained her unblemished record against the Korean. They have now met seven times in World ranking events; Feng Tianwei has won all seven.


Impressive from Feng Tianwei; it was the same from Choi Hyjoo and Chen Szu, who like Minami Ando and Honoka Hashimoto, were involved in contests where all the players on view had been required to compete in the qualification tournament.


Choi Hyojoo accounted for Japan’s Miyu Kato (11-9, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5); Chen Szu-Yu ended the aspirations of Lee Zion, like Choi Hyojoo from Korea. She emerged successful in five games (16-14, 11-2, 10-12, 12-10, 11-4).


Matches in the lower half of the Women’s Singles second round draw will be played later in the day.