Thursday 11th December: GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals
On the first day, Thursday 11th December at the US$ 1,000,0000 GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, play started with the first stage of the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events; it concluded with the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles quarter-finals.
A top two finish was the aim in each of the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles groups; it meant a main draw place. There were surprises.
Japan’s Hitomi Sato, the top seed, had to settle for third place in her group behind colleagues Miyu Maeda and Mima Ito; whilst in the counterpart group it was second place for Germany’s Petrissa Solja.
Petrissa Solja beat both Japan’s Sakura Mori and Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu but suffered defeat against the host nation’s Suthasini Sawettabut. Games ratio decided the top three places with Chen Szu-Yu finishing ahead of Petrissa Solja and Suthasini Sawettabut.
A busy day but nobody was busier than Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the third seed in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event he played no less than 19 games en route to ending the day unbeaten and thus securing top spot in the group.
After beating Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul, he accounted for top seed, Asuka Sakai of Japan and Singapore’s Chen Feng, the runner up three years ago in London.
A surprise first place, there was an even bigger surprise in the adjacent group. Japan’s Asuka Machi, the no.6 seed, remained unbeaten to top the group; Korea’s Jang Woojin concluded the day in runners up spot and thus advanced to the main draw.
Upsets in the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles events on the first day of play; it was the same in the Men’s and Women’s Doubles.
Reigning World champions, Chinese Taipei’s Chien Chen-An and Chuang Chih-Yuan suffered defeat at hands of Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira and Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.4 seeds.
Defeat for one celebrated Chinese Taipei partnership, there was defeat for another; Chiang Hung-Chieh and Huang Sheng, the second seeds and runners up at 2013 Grand Finals, lost to Russia’s Alexey Liventsov and Mikail Paikov, the no.8 seeds.
Likewise there was an upset at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Doubles event; Poland’s Katarzyna Grzybowska and Natalia Partyka, the no.5 seeds, beat Japan’s Ai Fukuhara and Misako Wakamiya, the no.2 seeds.
An enthralling day more awaits, Friday sees the start of the Men’s and Women’s Singles event; top class action awaits.