China’s top seed Fan Zhendong made an ominously efficient start to his quest for the men’s singles title at the International Table Tennis Federation World Championships in Budapest as he reached the round of 32 without losing a game.
The 21-year-old world number one, seeking to go one better than the silver he won at the individual World Championships last time round in 2017, beat Croatia’s Frane Kojic 4-0 in the Hungexpo venue, and recorded the same score against Portugal’s Joao Monteiro.
In tomorrow’s round of 32, Fan meets Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna.
At the other end of the draw, Fan’s compatriot Xu Xin, the second seed, had a similarly straightforward start as he beat Slovenia’s Jan Zibrat 4-1 and Austria’s Stefan Fegerl 4-0.
Brazil’s mercurial 22-year-old, Hugo Calderano, came through his first-round match against Argentina’s Horacio Cifuetes 4-2, before progressing with the same score against Japan’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura for a meeting tomorrow with India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.
Japan’s 15-year-old world number five, Tomokazu Harimoto, reached the round of 32 with a 4-1 win over Poland’s Marek Badowski and a 4-0 victory over Sweden’s Jon Persson, and he will meet Portugal’s Marcus Freitas next.
Germany’s 38-year-old former world number one, Timo Boll, came through his two opening matches, beating Croatia’s Andrej Gacina 4-2 and then earning a 4-0 win over Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej.
In the women’s singles, Fan’s compatriot Ding Ning, the Rio 2016 champion, advanced with similar power, earning a 4-0 win over Egypt’s Yousra Helmy before defeating Sarah de Nutte of the Netherlands 4-1.
China’s second seed, Chen Meng, earned 4-0 wins against Xin Ru Wong and Lin Ye, both of Singapore.
Japan’s 19-year-old challenger Miu Hirano progressed with a 4-1 won over North Korea’s Kim Jin Hyang followed by a 4-2 win over Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska.
Hirano’s 18-year-old compatriot Mima Ito reached the round of 32 with a 4-0 win over Aneta Kucerova of the Czech Republic and a 4-1 win over Lily Zhang of the United States.
Meanwhile, Japan’s highest seeded player, Kasumi Ishikawa, progressed with a 4-0 win over Kazakhstan’s Anastassiya Lavrova and a 4-1 win over Austria’s Amelie Solja.
Earlier in the day in their women’s doubles defeat by China’s Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling,, Luxembourg’s pairing of Ni Xia Lian and Sarah de Nutte wore black armbands as a mark of respect for the death of the 98-year-old honorary IOC member Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg earlier in the day.
André Hartmann, President of the Luxembourg Table Tennis Federation, added his condolences over the death of Grand Duke Jean, who abdicated from office in 2000 in favour of his son Henri.
Hartmann said: “Prince Louis, a son of the actual Grand Duke Henri, is the patron of the Luxembourg Table Tennis Federation.
“The Luxembourg table tennis team showed a great sign of compassion and expression of condolence to the Grand Ducal family.”