The first round for the highest seeded players , especially in the Olympics can be a harsh thing. To put it frankly; Survive or Go Home! Plenty of butterflies to control and this morning’s sleeve of matches were no different. Here is a quick look at some of the survivors – the winners of the round 32, all of them continuing play tonight at the Excel N1 arena.. Let’s give them a grade shall we?Zhang JIKE, CHN ; 4-0 B+
Calm, collected and composed. Had an easy route against an average (at best) ex Chinese, now playing for Turkey – Bora VANG.
Vladimir SAMSONOV, BLR; 4-3 C+
Vladi was living dangerously in the match with the smart playing William HENZELL. Really dangerous to tell you the truth ; he clearly stared at defeat being down 1-4 in the seventh game but recovered and got away with this one. Full mark to HENZELL for believing in himself. Must be much better in the next round to stand any chance versus Zhang JIKE, and I am sure he will.
Kim HYOK BONG, PRK; 4-2 B+
Won against JOO Saehyuk in a thrilling six gamer that featured some of the most spectacular rallies so far in this event. Should stand with good chances to remove the left-handed Hong Kong Chinese; JIANG Tianyi from the draw in the next round.
Dimitrij OVTCHAROV , GER ; 4-0 A+
Here is the guy to watch out for – I think! Dima played well enough this morning against Paul DRINKHALL (Welcome back) to indicate that he is here to make some serious noise. The serves looked sharp, he is showing improvements when it comes to his physical conditioning (great strength) and on top of that his game is powerful enough to make him a serious contender for a medal here in London.
Jun MIZUTANI, JPN 4-1 B-
Spent most of this morning close to the nice looking London 2012 surrounds fishing from the back/court. Will not beat any strong players from there here in London , but may get a free pass to step closer against Maze in the next round – who is keen enough to give up some distance himself.
Michael MAZE, DEN 4-1 B
Looked, for the first time in years, healthy, strong and motivated enough to take it to the necessary level. I am staying away from the world class stamp for now – but Maze is here on a mission to prove to himself that he still can compete with the best. Dangerous underdog against Mizutani, let’s stay with that for now.
Timo BOLL , GER 4-0 B
Didn’t have to show much against the “not sure I believe in this one” at the same time very promising; Noshed ALAMAYAN from Iran. Then again, when Timo is playing well – the opponents always are searching desperately for an answer.
Andrej GACINA, CRO 4-3 B+
Well done by Gacina who yesterday sent Jorgen Persson packing and now took out the higher seeded SHIBAEV from Russia. Started aggressive and built a good enough lead to hold the fort when the Russian made his push. Look out for another good performance against well known (for Gacina) opponent in the next round.
OH Sangeun, KOR 4-0 A-
Full marks for OH who almost massacred Marcos FREITAS in his first appearance in the Olympic venue. Won this one easy (8, 2, 6, 8), without even coming close to putting the pedal down. Looked like a contender and not a pretender – that’s for sure.
WANG Hao , CHN 4-1 C+
Oops.. Suddenly there were mistakes from all angles and positions made by WANG against the well passed his top form Werner SCHLAGER, who actually had some chances in this match. Maybe nerves, maybe off in terms of form? But one thing for sure is that the Chinese top seed quickly has to regroup and get going if he wants to win the gold medal. Good guess is that nothing else matters for him?