By Neha Aggarwal
Both the players had reached this stage surpassing the better off Chinese opponents. Koki Niwa beat Xu Xin in the quarter finals 3-1, and Jeong Sangeun had caused the biggest upset in recent times beating Ma long 3-1 in the third round.
Both were thus high on confidence.
Once the match took off, it almost felt as if the game was going towards Koki Niwa. It almost felt as if he will continue to keep the Japanese flag flying high on the final day of the Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships.
But Jeong Sangeun had different plans in mind, a strong head and a determined heart.
He certainly did not start well, trailing 0-2, he gave the entire contingent of Korea Republic slight nervousness. But soon, the tides turned and the game changed. Moving across the length of the table like a cheetah catching his prey, Jeong Sangeun leveled the match winning the next two games 11-5, 11-7.
“At first I didn’t plan to play long rallies against him. When I was 0-2 behind, my coach told me to serve short at his forehand, make him flick and play rallies against him. I have advantage playing rallies against him, so in this way I can come back point by point. At the beginning, I wanted to serve different balls, long, short, but then I thought too much so I made some errors. After that I decide to keep it simple, serve short, and play rallies.”- Jeong Sangeun
The deciding game was a roller coaster event. Niwa won first 5 points of fifth game with a 5-0 and that is when the Korean woke up from a mini slumber. He raced well, to get closer only to see himself trailing 6-10.
“The fifth game, when I was 6-10 behind, my mental status was quite relaxed. I thought I was losing so I just planned to get as more points as I could. When 8-10, it’s my turn to serve. I decided to turn my body after the serve, if he plays forehand then just let him win. If he uses backhand I’ll fight for the last chance. I didn’t think too much then.”- Jeong Sangeun
Seemed like he had a magic potion, Jeong Sangeun saved four match points to level the game to 10-10, before finally winning 13-11.
Shocked Koki Niwa had a poker face but the elated Jeong Sangeun celebrated the victory with fist pumps and jumps.
“Whenever I play table tennis, I never think of how to get in final. I just fight, one match by one match. In final, it’d be great if I perform well and win the match, if not, I’ll take lessons from it and practiced more when I’m back. It’d be tough and I’ll do my best, ” said- Jeong Sangeun after the win.
He had a lot of Chinese fans supporting him. “I didn’t expect so many Chinese audiences cheering for me,’ he accepted. In the finals he will play against Fan Zhendong, where the same fans will probably be against him.
Finals will be played at 17:15 local time. Watch LIVE on ITTF’s Youtube Channel.