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Host favorite Ito gets lucky in Olympic table tennis draw

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-07-22 09:32
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Mima Ito of Japan during training in Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan, July 19, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO - Mima Ito of Japan was lucky enough to avoid a possible faceoff with top-rated Chen Meng of China before reaching the women's singles final, as the Olympic table tennis draw was made here on Wednesday.

The current world No 2, who's reckoned as the best hope for the hosts' challenge to an Olympic table tennis medal in singles, is not expected to meet strong resistance ahead of the quarterfinals, where her opponent could be Jeon Jihee representing South Korea.

If Ito made into the semifinals, she could meet China's second seed Sun Yingsha, who's in the same quarter with Singapore veteran Fang Tianwei, Han Yang of Germany and Chen Szu-Yu of Chinese Taipei.

No 1 seed Chen Meng, who has neither world championships title nor Olympic gold medal to her name yet, needs to beat German Petrissa Solja to reach the quarterfinals. Kasumi Ishikawa of Japan and Change I-Ching of Chinese Taipei are also in the same half.

In the men's singles draw, world No 1 Fan Zhendong is in the same quarter with the 2014 European Cup holder Marcos Freitas of Portugal, South Korean Jeoung Youngsik and German veteran Timo Boll, while the two best teenagers Lin Yun-Ju and Tomokazu Harimoto are also in his half.

Defending Olympic champion Ma Long is in the second half, with Hugo Calderano of Brazil, Jiang Woojin of South Korea, Koki Niwa of Japan, Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany, Matters Falck of Sweden, Wong Chen Ting of China's Hong Kong, and Simon Gauzy of France.

For the mixed doubles event, which makes its debut at this Olympics, top seeds Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen are the favorite podium candidates, and their first round match is against Wang Zhen/Zhang Mo representing Canada.

Wong Chin Ting/Doo Hoi Kem of China's Hong Kong could expect a semifinal matchup with the Chinese duo, while local favorites Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito sit firm in the other half with their best challenge before the final coming from South Korea's Lee Sangsu/Jeon Jihee.

The Olympic table tennis competitions get underway at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium Saturday, with team events not being put on until August 1. The defending champions Chinese men's team will meet Egypt and their women's counterparts will face Austria.

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