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Friday 16th June


Shock first round winners, abrupt end one round later

They had been the cause of upsets in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Lion Japan Open in Tokyo; later in the day, on Friday 16th June, in the second round of proceedings, their progress came to an abrupt end.

It was journey’s end for Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit, Korea’s Lim Jonghoon and the host nation’s Jin Ueda; all experienced defeat against illustrious names.

Lim Jonghoon, winner of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event the previous day and the first round victor over Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, the no.11 seed (7-11, 12-10, 11-6, 10-12, 11-5, 12-10) was beaten by China’s Fang Bo, the no.7 seed (11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 12-10).

Defeat but has Korea unearthed a player who could be in the national team for next year’s World Team Championships in Halmstad?

Jeoung Youngsik, Lee Sangsu and Jeong Sangeun may be the current first team selection but note the name of the 20 year old. Early this year in March he was listed at no.125 on the Men’s World Rankings, he is now at no.64; when the July edition is published surely he is set to go higher?

Likewise for Ho Kwan Kit, it was defeat against a high quality player, the highest of all; he was beaten by China’s Ma Long, the top seed (11-4, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7), the winner of every major tournament the sport has to offer.

Similar, Jin Ueda departed when faced with a prominent name; he lost to compatriot, Koki Niwa, the no.9 seed (11-7, 5-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7, 11-7).

Farewell to one player from the host nation by definition; there was also farewell for another. Kenta Matsudaira, the no.10 seed, was beaten by Xu Xin, likewise from China. Xu Xin, the no.3 seed, won in five games.

At the quarter-final stage Ma Long meets Koki Niwa, Xu Xin opposes Fang Bo; the lower half of the draw in the second round of the Men’s Singles event will be concluded on the morning of Saturday 17th June. 

Sun Yingsha follows Wang Manyu, one major upset after another

Runner up in the Junior Girls’ Singles event one year ago on home soil in Taicang, her most notable international success to date, China’s Sun Yingsha continued her winning ways in the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Japan Open in Tokyo on the evening of Friday 16th June.

The 16 year old, successfully through the qualification process, after recording a first round win over Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.9 seed (13-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-1) caused an even bigger upset one round later; she accounted for Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the top seed and winner of the event in both 2011 and 2014.

Impressively Sun Yingsha won in six games (11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-2, 4-11, 11-5); in the opening round Feng Tianwei had beaten Austria’s Sofia Polcanova (11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-2, 4-11, 11-5).

“This is the first time we have played against each other. I’ve had a cold lately, not in a good form. Of course that is one reason; also I’m fatigued after the World Championships. I was not able to adapt and change my pace fast enough in the match. Playing against a Chinese player, once you are slow in making changes, you are in a passive position. For me, now my priority is to recover fast, as there are many more competitions coming up. Sun Yingsha played well today, very mature mentally, unlike other 16 year olds who might get nervous.” Feng Tianwei

Two surprise wins, it was the very same for compatriot Wang Manyu, likewise a qualifier. The 18 year old, who earlier this year had been the runner up in Qatar, after causing the host nation excruciating pain by beating Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.3 seed, in the opening round (6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 14-12, 11-7), continued her good form to cause yet another upset. In round two she ended the hopes of Romania’s Elizabeta Samara (11-7, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7).

An impressive win against the 2015 European champion; Elizabeta Samara was a player in form; also a qualifier, in the opening round she had also caused Singapore anguish. She had beaten Yu Mengyu, the no.16 seed (11-7, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5).

Success for Elizabeta Samara against the odds, it was just one of a whole host of upsets in round one of the Women’s Singles event.

In addition to Elizabeta Samara, Sung Yingsha and Wang Manyu; Portugal’s Fu Yu beat Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto, the no.15 seed (11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 14-12, 13-11), whilst China’s Chen Ke overcame Li Jie of the Netherlands, the no.14 seed (11-6, 12-10, 11-2, 11-7).

Fu Yu now meets Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.4 seed and first round winner over Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4); the contest to be enacted on Saturday 17th June. However, for Chen Ke the adventures are over; in the second round she was beaten by the host nation’s Mima Ito, the no.8 seed, in a full distance seven games duel (11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7). In the opening round Mima Ito had beaten Korea’s Yang Haeun (6-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5).

“It’s our first encounter, so I knew I had to play with my full power. Even though the match was very close against Chen Ke, I wasn’t thinking too much in the match, I wasn’t nervous at all. I played with the same mind-set as when I was playing the World Championships.” Mima Ito

Surprises and as the top half of the draw in the Women’s Singles event advanced, there was one more. Germany’s Shan Xiaona, the no.14 seed, who in the opening round had beaten Japan’s Miyu Kato (11-5, 8-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3) caused the host nation more pain by penetrating the defensive skills of Hitomi Sato, the no.7 seed (11-5, 10-12, 11-6, 13-11, 12-10).

In round one Hitomi Sato had ousted China’s Yuan Xuejiao (11-3, 11-2, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4) a right handed attacking player making her international debut.

Upsets upon upsets, with second round in the lower half of the draw in the Women’s Singles event to be completed on the penultimate day of action, just three of the top eight seeds remain.

At the conclusion of the day, in addition to Mima Ito and Cheng I-Ching; only five of the top eight seeds remain, the medal hopes of China’s Chen Meng, the no.2 seed, Japan’s Miu Hirano, the no.5 seed and Germany’s Han Ying, the no.6 seed are still intact.

In the opening round, Chen Meng beat Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai Yam (11-7, 11-6, 12-10, 11-5), Miu Hirano overcame Korea’s Suh Hyowon (11-8, 11-6, 11-4, 11-4); Han Ying proved too secure in defence for Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu (11-5, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8).

All three appear in the lower half of the draw; the second round matches are yet to be completed.


Senior citizens depart, younger generation upsets seeding

Beaten by colleague Xu Xin in the fourth round of the Men’s Singles event at the recent Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf and beaten by a whisker, China’s Lin Gaoyuan was the player to cause the biggest upset as matters advanced in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Lion Japan Open in Tokyo.

In a contest of different generations the 22 year old beat Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.6 seed, in five games (11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8).

Timo Boll, now 36 years old, is the most senior player in the Men’s Singles event, he is some 11 days older than colleague Bastian Steger and four weeks older than Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan; they are the three players on duty born in 1981 and all disappeared in round one.

Earlier in the day, Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.8 seed, had been beaten by the host nation’s Jin Ueda (11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6); whilst as the second half of the draw advanced, Bastian Steger also experienced defeat at Japanese hands. He was beaten by Jun Mizutani, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 12-10).

"I have been sick after the World Championships. I was tired, not fresh at all. I had to fight against myself to keep my concentration high to push myself to move a little bit better but I lost the fight." Timo Boll

Meanwhile, in addition to Timo Boll and Chuang Chih-Yuan, four further seeds departed in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event.

Austria’s Stefan Fegerl, the no.13 seed, also suffered at Chinese hands, he was beaten by Liang Jingkun (11-7, 11-7, 13-15, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4). Similarly, the host nation’s Yuya Oshima, the no.14 seed, departed at the hands of Frenchman, Emmanuel Lebesson, the reigning European champion (11-5, 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10); whilst Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit ended the hopes of Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the no.16 seed (7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 6-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-4).

Surprises but not where the very leading names were concerned; the Chinese trio of Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin all recorded impressive wins. China’s Ma Long, the top seed, beat Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura (18-16, 11-7, 11-2, 11-2), Fan Zhendong accounted for Masaki Yoshida, also from Japan (12-10, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9) whilst Xu Xin halted Swedish hopes. He overcame Mattias Karlsson (11-3, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7).

Likewise, in addition to Jun Mizutani, there was success for Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.5 seed, China’s Fang Bo, the no.7 seed and Korea’s Lee Sangsu who had given a stunning performance at the recent Liebherr 2017 World Championships to end matters with a bronze medal.

Wong Chun Ting accounted for Japan’s Takuya Jin (11-5, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10), whilst Fang Bo recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat Kazuhiro Yoshimura, likewise from Japan in the closest match of the round (8-11, 9-11, 5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7, 14-12). Not to be outdone, Lee Sangsu, the no.12 seed, overcame Egypt’s Omar Assar (4-11, 11-7, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9).

Play continues later in the day in round two.