by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A dangerous opponent is arguably a description which fits Jeong Sangeun; on their one and only previous meeting on the international scene, Jeong Sangeun caused Ma Long a host of problems. In fact it was arguably a match the Korean should have won.
On Friday 18th February at the 2011 ITTF World Tour United Arab Emirates Open in Dubai, in their second round Men’s Singles encounter, Jeong Sangeun led Ma Long 9-6 in the deciding seventh game, before losing five points in a row to experience agonising defeat (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 12-14, 11-9).
“That match didn’t really have any effect on today; it’s the way Ma Long plays, I’m comfortable with that; today I had more chances to attack. The last time I lost and it was frustrating. Today I had some luck but I was mentally calm and stable; having lost to him last time four-three, I just went out there to fight. After I won the first game I think Ma Long was a bit nervous; then at two-nil I think he was even more nervous. In the next game I lost a little focus but I came back.” Jeong Sangeun.
Prior to that match, Mike Meier of the United States, an international umpire resident in Korea at the time, contacted me and told me that Jeong Sangeun would beat Ma Long; six years later he was correct!
“We had a very tight match during our last encounter as well. I lost the first game when I had the initial lead. After losing that game, I wasn’t handling the situation well, especially in a best of five games situation. The ball used is also different from what we have been using, so it affected as well, causing me having some unnecessary errors. Actually in the fourth game, I started well with a three-nil lead but at that time, I was penalised for a fault service and that did affected me. Jeoung Sangeun was playing very aggressive and well. On the other hand, I made many errors and that gave him more chance.” Ma Long
A major upset, the efforts of Jeong Sangeun rather overshadowed those of Hong Kong’s Jiang TIanyi and Lam Siu Hang.
Plagued by injury in 2016, Jiang Tianyi accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the no.11 seed (11-9, 11-9, 12-14, 11-8), whilst Lam Siu Hang recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira, the no.8 seed, by the very narrowest of decisions (5-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9).
No place in the fourth round for Chen Chien-An; however, Chinese Taipei is represented amongst the last 16 names. Yang Heng-Wei beat Uzbekistan’s Islombek Sultonov (11-2, 11-2, 11-3).
Notably, Islombek Sultonov had one round earlier overcome Kyrgyzstan’s Mukhammad Alhmedzhanov (11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7), the player who had received an earlier walk-over against Jeoung Youngsik, the no.6 seed, the Korean being forced to withdraw from proceedings owing to a wrist injury.
Defeat for Ma Long but not for his colleagues they imposed their authority on affairs, all overcoming adversaries from Chinese Taipei.
Fan Zhendong, the no.2 seed, overcame Sun Chia-Hung (11-2, 11-8, 11-5); Xu Xin accounted for Liao Cheng-Ting (11-8, 11-8, 11-6), whilst Zhang Jike, the no.4 seed, ended the aspirations of Hung Tzu-Hsiang (11-4, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5).