(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
The major tour events will all have an added level of pressure as players prepare for the Tokyo Olympics this year. Such was the case this week at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open as sixteen of the top 18 players in the rankings competed in Magdeburg. The preliminary competition was fierce – with the top 16 qualifiers emerging to the main draw to play the seeded players.
Regarding positioning for the Olympics, its important to note that Germany and Japan each has three players in the final sixteen. China doubled those numbers with six and Taiwan had two players. Only China, Germany, Japan, and Korea sent a player to the Quarterfinals. These are all solid indicators for players and teams in the medal hunt at the Olympics later this year.
The highlight of the Saturday matches was Dimitrij Ovtcharov coming back from down 1-3 against World No.1 Fan Zhendong to pull out a 4-3 win in front of the home crowd. But Ovtcharov’s run ended on Sunday with a Semifinal loss to Ma Long (4-2). In the other half of the draw, it was Xu Xin who dominated Lin Gaoyuan 4-0. The Final was little different as Xu Xin won a marathon first game 15-13 over Ma Long, and then cruised to relatively easy wins in the next three games for a 4-0 victory.
The results for Korea were solid with six players reaching the Round of 32 (only China advanced more). And Korea’s young new player, Seungmin Cho, scored a series of upsets on his way to the Quarterfinals. Jaehyun An lost in the round of 32, but he was the only player in the tournament to push Xu Xin (losing 4-3 in a tournament where Xu Xin only lost one other game in his four other matches).
Dimitrij Ovtcharov, a new Butterfly player, also had great results. He was the last non-Chinese player standing – a potentially enviable position in Olympic singles where only two players from each Country can compete. Germany overall was also in a strong position with five players advancing to the main draw and with three reaching the final 16. Ovtcharov will likely be in the running for a medal this Summer just as Germany, Japan, and Korea will all be working to score medals in a team event against a highly favored Chinese team.
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