21 Jan 2017

Both commenced play in the Men’s Singles qualification tournament at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open in Budapest, both duly reserved places in the main event, both upset the seeding in the opening two rounds; on the late morning of Saturday 21st January, both reserved semi-final places.

China’s 26 year old Shang Kun and 21 year old Lin Gaoyuan continued their relentless march unabated.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Neither player with a current World ranking owing to an absence for over a year from the international scene, Shang Kun accounted for Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the top seed (7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10); Lin Gaoyuan ended the hopes of Korea’s Joo Saehyuk, the no.4 seed (11-8, 4-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9).

“We played a very close match, open rallies. I could not really control the rotations on the ball from his backhand or forehand; he generated a lot of top spin. I had my chances tough but everyone comes her to win and there is only one winner”, Vladimir Samsonov after losing to Shang Kun

Success and unquestionably both Shang Kun and Lin Gaoyuan have enhanced their claim for a place in the Chinese team at the forthcoming Liebherr 2017 World Championships to be staged later this year in the German city of Düsseldorf. Make no mistake, Liu Guoliang, the head coach, is monitoring matters very closely!

“I struggled with serve and receive. It was difficult to find a chance to attack; he played very accurately; he did not give away cheap points at all. I was in good shape physically. I will be back in Hungary next year”, Joo Saehyuk after losing to Lin Gaoyuan

It was for Shang Kun, his third appearance in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles quarter-final, his second success. In 2013 in Sweden he departed proceedings in the round of the last eight, two years later in Japan he bid farewell at the semi-final stage.

Shang Kun defeats Vladimir Samsonov

Furthermore it was a win against a player from a totally different era; one of the great names of sport. Shang Kun was only six years old when Vladimir Samsonov won his first ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title in Bolzano, Italy in 1996.

“It is always very difficult to play against a legend, when I was a child I used to watch him all the time.  Today I felt really relaxed, I had peace in my heart and played really well”, Shang Kun after beating Vladimir Samsonov

Meanwhile, for Lin Gaoyuan, it will be his third ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles semi-final in five quarter-final appearances.

Lin Gaoyang overcomes Joo Saehyuk

Notably, one of the two previous visits to the penultimate round was also in Hungary; in October 2010 when the tournament was staged in Budaors, he reached the round of the last four, a feat he also achieved in Korea one year later. In 2011 in Poland and in 2014 in Kuwait he reached the quarter-finals.

“I knew him really well although we have never played against each other in an international competition. I prepared for the worst. I had the good tactics and match preparation and everything seemed to work; I could play a very dominant game”, Lin Gaoyuan after overcoming Joo Saehyuk

Later in the day Shang Kun and Lin Gaoyuan meet in the penultimate round.

World Tour 2017 Hungarian Open Vladimir Samsonov Lin Gaoyuan Shang Kun Joo Saehyuk

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