Top seeds have tumbled out in a dramatic opening round of the 2016 ITTF World Tour Korea Open today in Incheon, Korea with top players ZHANG Jike, Timo BOLL, Kasumi ISHIKAWA and Ai FUKUHARA all being defeated.
Olympic champion ZHANG Jike (CHN) was the highest profile causality, losing to CHEN Chien-An (TPE) 4-3 in an enthralling first round match.
ZHANG, who despite having suffered several shock losses in the past 12 months was selected to play singles for China at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which a lot of people questioned. This loss will cast further scrutiny over the decision to select the world number four over the current world number two and three FAN Zhendong and XU Xin.
After his amazing performance against ZHANG Jike, CHEN stated: “I can’t believe it, I am so happy. I was leading 3-1 and then started to think too much. When it was 3-3, I just told myself to slow things down and relax, as I still thought I could win the match. This is the best singles match of my career.”
Another of table tennis’s most known players Timo BOLL (GER) who is playing his first international event since February’s World Table Tennis Championships, was no match for up and coming French player Tristian FLORE (FRA), losing 4-1.
21-year-old FLORE who looks up to his opponent, shared “It was difficult playing him, as he is my hero. I grew up idolising him, and watching videos of him on YouTube. I was so nervous at the end, I was stressed. I am happy I was able to close the match out. This is my biggest ever win!”
Japan’s Olympic preparations have been thrown into turmoil with their three Olympic female players Kasumi ISHIKAWA, Ai FUKUHARA and Mima ITO all suffering defeat today.
World number 108 Cazuo MATSUMOTO (BRA) caused the biggest in the qualification stage, defeating world number 20 Andrej GACINA (CRO) to qualify for the main draw. Today, he caused an even bigger upset beating world number 18 Koki NIWA (JPN) 4-2 to progress to the next round.
Will there be more upsets in the second round? Watch ITTF.com/itTV live to find out.
The first round knock out started today Friday 24 June and the winners will be crowned on Sunday 26 June.
The Korea Open is the 12th of the 20 events on the 2016 ITTF World Tour and the fifth Super Series event of the year. The ITTF World Tour is categorized into three tiers: Super (six events) Major (six events) and Challenge (eight events). The higher the tier, the higher the prize money, better playing conditions and tougher competition for the title.
All the players playing ITTF World Tour events are fighting for not only for prize money and world ranking points, but also World Tour ranking points to qualify for the lucrative World Tour Grand Finals, taking place on 8-11 December 2016 in Doha, Qatar.
The 2016 ITTF World Tour is set to be the most extensively followed tour in history, with more events shown live throughout the world on television, and all the events being shown live on ITTF’s live streaming platform, ITTF.com/itTV.
In addition to the men’s and women’s singles event at the Korea Open, the world’s best players will also be playing men’s and women’s doubles and the stars of the future will be lining up in the men’s and women’s under 21 events.