TOKYO (Reuters) -Japanese medal favourite Mima Ito outplayed Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut on Tuesday to move into the quarter-finals of the women’s singles table tennis competition at the Tokyo Olympics.
The world number two, who won the mixed doubles gold with Jun Mizutani on Monday, swept to a 4-0 win over Thai paddler with a score of 11-7 11-6 11-9 11-7.
“I was able to play the games that would lead to tomorrow,” a confident Ito told reporters.
“I’m going to use my ability to the absolute fullest, enjoy and go for the win.”
Ito has won against some of the Chinese paddlers she is likely to face in the business-end of the competition, and Japan’s victory on Monday raised hopes for others to challenge China’s dominance.
“The mixed doubles event was the safest gold medal for China but they lost it. So I think everybody’s going to fight to get more gold medals,” Brazilian paddler Hugo Calderano.
“More players will start to believe and maybe some other great things will happen.”
China’s top players are going all out after Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin’s surprise mixed doubles defeat.
World number one Fan Zhendong marked his Olympic debut with a 4-0 victory over French paddler Emmanuel Lebesson in the men’s singles.
China’s Fan sailed into quarter-finals after a 4-1 win over Portugal’s Marcos Freitas.
“Competition is competition. I don’t think too much,” said Fan, brushing off the pressure.
Rio Olympics champion Ma Long, 32, secured his spot in the quarter-final after a 4-1 win against France’s Simon Gauzy.
In the women’s singles, fellow Chinese heavyweights Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha, the world’s number one and number three respectively, both sealed victories against their opponents to move onto the quarter-finals.
Olympics debutant Sun said Xu and Liu did their best despite their loss.
“After seeing what happened, my motivation is even greater. I will prepare even harder,” she said.
Elsewhere, Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic pulled off a 4-3 upset win over world number four Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan.
World No. 43 Omar Assar of Egypt beat the odds and advanced to quarter-finals after wins over world No. 9 Mattias Falck and No. 27 Chuang Chih-Yuan.
(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Karishma Singh and Pritha Sarkar)