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Kenta Matsudaira – Photo courtesy of ITTF

Kenta Matsudaira the player to beat in Olomouc

Kenta Matsudaira the player to beat in Olomouc

Courtesy of ITTF / by Simon Daish

With the ITTF World Tour Czech Open set to get underway on August 31st, we take a look at which players could mount a challenge for the Men’s Singles title.

Top Seed Favorite

Kenta Matsudaira (Japan) heads the charge in Olomouc having been named as the number one seed for the Men’s Singles event.

Matsudaira has proven himself in the Men’s Doubles category taking the 2010 Hungary Open title, but to this day he is yet to win a World Tour singles title. The last 16 is the furthest Matsudaira has progressed in a World Tour event in 2016 when he exited to fellow compatriot Maharu Yoshimura at the Polish Open in April.

The 25-year-old will be hoping to win his first singles trophy come Sunday’s final. However, the 2006 World Junior Champion will face stiff opposition from other notable names.

Strong European Contingent

Jonathan Groth will look to brush off his third round exit to Ma Long at Rio 2016, by putting in a strong performance over the course of the next five days.

The Danish player beat Kenta Matsudaira in seven ends at the 2015 World Championships in Suzhou, which has turned out to be their one and only previous meeting on the world circuit. If both players were to meet in the final of the Czech Open, would a similar result be on the cards for Groth?

Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Patrick Baum will also be vying for the title, while Mattias Karlsson (Sweden) and Joao Geraldo (Portugal) are also set to be in attendance.

Home Players to Watch

Fresh from his Bulgaria Open triumph, Tomas Konecny (Czech Republic) will be going for back-to-back World Tour successes and what better place to do it than in his home country.

Konecny’s victory over Quentin Robinot (France) in Panagyurishte saw him become the first player from the Czech Republic to win a Men’s Singles title at an ITTF World Tour event.

Seeded above Konecny are another two Czech players: Dimitrij Prokopcov (15th) and Lubomir Jancarik (13th) putting the host country in with a decent shot of glory.

Youth to Prevail?

13-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan) enters the 2016 Czech Open as the sixth seed for the Men’s Singles category.

Harimoto has already impressed in 2016 with his Under 21 Men’s Singles triumph over Kohei Sambe (Japan), having beaten the likes of Ho Kwan Kit (Hong Kong) and Hugo Calderano (Brazil) in the previous rounds; can the young teenager continue to show the world that he means business with more shock wins this time out in Olomouc?

Also taking part is last year’s Under 21 Men’s Singles champion Yuya Oshima (Japan) and runner-up Anton Kallberg (Sweden) who is currently 19 years old.

The 2015 Czech Open witnessed Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting win his first ITTF World Tour title, will 2016’s rendition of the competition see another player register their first Men’s Singles triumph?

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