The opening round of the Top 16 players in the Men Singles took place today in the Excel Arena. Although, the level of strength of these table tennis stars is world-class, the momentum of the challegers should not to be taken for granted. This is the reason why this round is said to be the most critical.
Indeed, intense trainings and preparation benefited the reigning world champion and top seed Zhang Jike of China. In the round 32, he came prepared for the Turkish Bora Vang. Zhang Jike quickly entered into the right condition and nailed the first three sets with 11-8, 11-8, and 11-5. In the fourth set, Bora Vang did not have the chances to recover. Zhang Jike completed a powerful 4-0 with 11-7 in the fourth set.
After Zhang Jike, the second seed Wang Hao was off with a good start as well. However, it was clear that Wang Hao's opening round was a bit rougher. His opponent Werner Schlager successfully tested the patience of the Chinese player. However, after five sets, Wang Hao prevailed with 11-3, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8, and 11-9.
The Australian William Henzel entered into the Round 32 having the momentum. He performed very well in his two previous matches which include the upset against Joao Monteiro of Portugal. Today, against the Belarussian Vladimir Samsonov, William Henzel successfully imposed threat to the veteran after posting a 2-1 lead. However, at the end of a full seven-set match, Samsonov prevailed with 12-10, 8-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, and 11-7.
The Hong Kong player Jiang Tianyi encountered some problems against the Russian Alexey Smirnov. Although Jiang Tianyi got the first two sets, Smirnov showed great fighting spirit in the third set. However, despite challenge, Jiang Tianyi managed to surpass the hurdle with 11-9, 11-5, 6-11, 12-10, and 12-10.
The fourth match was a battle between the two Korea: North Korea's Kim Hyok Bong against South Korea's Joo Saehyuk. The 32nd seed Kim was actually in a good condition overpowering the defensive skills of Joo Saehyuk. In the sixth set, Joo Saehyuk fought for his life after saving several set points. However, his recovery did not produce success. Kim Hyok Bong ended the dream of Joo for an Olympic medal in 11-5, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, and 15-13. As the sixth seed, Joo Saehyuk is the biggest upset in the competition so far.
Fortunately, South Korea still has Oh Sangeun in the competition. Unlike Joo Saehyuk, the veteran Oh Sangeun was in good condition and posted a wonderful sweep victory against the last Portuguese standing, Marcos Freitas. Oh Sangeun advanced into the next round with 11-8, 11-6, 11-2, and 11-8.
The Round 32 is the end for the London's pride in table tennis, Paul Drinkhall. Against the German Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Drinkhall's momentum from the previous round did not do him any good. In just four sets, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4, Ovtcharov sealed his place in the next round.
Same as Ovtcharov, the German superstar Timo Boll also posted a magnificent sweep victory. Unfortunately, the victim in the round was the Iranian Noshad Alamiyan whose Olympic journey ended today. Alamiyan actually tried to recover in the third & fourth sets but Timo Boll was just in great condition and posted 11-8, 11-5, 12-10, and 12-10. Could the deep breaths of Timo Boll helped him ease the tension?
The 14th seed and French Adrien Mattenet did not have any chances against the veteran and 18th seed, Chen Weixing of Austria. In four straight sets, Chen Weixing advances into the next round with 11-3, 16-14, 11-6, 11-9.
In an interview before his debut, Michael Maze admitted that he do his best to beat Kalinikos Kreanga. Today, Michael Maze, put his words into action and successfully sealed his place in the Round 16. Maze scored 12-10, 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, and 11-3. In addition, Romanian Adrian Crisan overcame the challenge from He Zhiwen of Spain. he scored 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, and 11-9.
After the loss of Alexey Smirnov, his teammate and 16th seed Alexander Shibaev failed to keep the Russian hopes alive. He is the second casualty in the round after losing against the 27th seed Andrej Gacina of Croatia who scored 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, and 11-8.
The third seeded Jun Mizutani keep the hopes of the Japanese Team after winning against the 49th seed El-Sayed Lashin of Egypt. Lashin won the second set, but failed to continue such strength for the rest of the match. After five sets, Jun Mizutani scored 11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, and 11-6.
In addition to Mizutani, the second Japanese player Seiya Kishikawa completed the team into the next round. Kishikawa overcame the challenge from Greek Panagiotis Gionis in 11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 8-11, and 12-10.
Chinese Taipei and fifth seed Chuang Chih Yuan was off with a good start in the competition with 4-0 win against 52nd seed Daniel Zwickl of Hungary. Chuang Chih Yuan scored 8-11, 8-11, 6-11, and 9-11. The last Asian to have sealed success into the next round is Gao Ning of Singapore after scoring 11-7, 11-7, 11-5, and 14-12 against Bojan Tokic of Slovenia. After his teammate Yang Zi lost yesterday, the Singaporean hope depends on Gao Ning.
The 2012 London Olympic Men Singles will continue with its competition with the Round 16, 19:00 to 21:00 local time. Stay tuned forthe results only in TableTennista.
Photo source: bleacherreport.com