Day 4 preview: Quarterfinal action beings from the Riocentro

Quarterfinal preview

Table tennis at the 2016 Rio Games.

The quarterfinals of the men’s and women’s singles in table tennis start Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM ET and continue all day on

Reigning champion Li Xiaonia is slated for the first match of the day as she faces Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei. Li has cruised through these Games, not dropping a game in two matches. Cheng, on the other hand, has played in two grueling seven-gamers.

Second-seeded Feng Tianwei of Singapore faces perhaps the sternest test of the round of eight when she goes up against Japan’s Ai Fukuhara. Fukuhara, who helped her country win its first-ever table tennis medal in the team competition four years ago, hasn’t dropped a game yet in Rio. Feng, who won bronze in London, took both her opening matches in six games.

Kim Song-I has a chance to score her second high-profile upset of the tournament when she clashes with Singapore’s Yu Mengyu in the third quarterfinal of the morning. The North Korean knocked off Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa in the third round, then dismissed Chen Szu-Yu in the fourth. Yu has dropped only a single game on her march to the quarters.

The final match of the day on the women’s side is without a doubt the most tantalizing, as top-ranked Ding Ning squares off against the five seed Han Ying. Ding has hardly broken a sweat so far, sweeping both her matches at a canter. Han hasn’t had to work much harder, dropping just a single game in Rio.

On the men’s side, London bronze medalist Dimitrij Ovtcharov will oppose Belarusian Vladimir Samsonov. Samsonov had to slog through two six-gamers in his opening matches, while Ovtcharov survived an epic 31-33 loss to Bojan Tokic in the opening game of his fourth round tie before roaring back to win the match 4-1.

Defending gold-medalist Zhang Jike plays his quarterfinal at 4:00 PM ET opposite Koki Niwa of Japan. Zhang has yet to lose a game at these Olympics, while Niwa dug himself out of a 3-1 hole to upset Wong Chun Ting in round four.

The nightcap begins with Portugal’s Marcos Freitas locking horns with Japan’s Jun Mizutani. The four seed in the tournament, Mizutani struggled to get past hometown hero Hugo Calderano in the fourth round. Freitas has cruised in Rio, dropping just one game.

The day concludes with the most compelling storyline, as top-seeded Ma Long will look to end Quadri Aruna’s fairytale run. Aruna, the first African to make the quarterfinals of a men’s Olympic table tennis tournament, upset Germany’s Timo Boll in round four, while Ma had to rally from 2-0 down to squeak past Jung Young-Sik.

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