by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Similarly, in the Women’s Singles semi-finals three Chinese names appear; Sun Yingsha faces Wang Manyu, Chen Meng opposes Germany’s Han Ying.
Success but for the defending champion, Fan Zhendong, there were some moments of concern; he had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to beat Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson (9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7, 11-3), before being similarly tested by colleague Liang Jingkun (10-12, 7-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6).
A hard fought win over Liang Jingkun, who was a man in form; in the second round he had overpowered Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.5 seed (11-4, 11-5, 11-13, 11-9, 11-4).
Testing times for Fan Zhendong; there were even more exacting times for Jun Mizutani, the no.4 seed. After beating Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.15 seed, in four games (10-12, 11-7, 13-11, 11-9, 11-8), he was stretched to very limit by Korea’s Lee Sangsu, the no.12 seed (11-6, 11-9, 4-11, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10). Notably one round earlier Lee Sangsu had beaten China’s Lin Gaoyuan in four straight games (11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7).
Eventual success as status predicted; in the upper half of the draw where the second round matches had been completed the previous day, it was the same scenario. Ma Long, the top seed, beat Japan’s Koki Niwa (11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3); Xu Xin, the no.3 seed, received a walk-over against injured colleague Fang Bo, the no.7 seed.
The duel between Xu Xin and Fang Bo was a highly anticipated contest but not as anticipated the quarter-final clash in the Women’s Singles event between China’s Chen Meng, the no.2 seed and Japan’s Miu Hirano, the no.5 seed; the latter having sensationally beaten Chen Meng two months ago in Women’s Singles final at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF Asian Championships in Wuxi.
Chen Meng extracted revenge, after having overcome Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun in four games (11-13, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5), she accounted for Miu Hirano in four straight games (11-7, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7). In the second round Miu Hirano had beaten Korea’s Jeon Jihee, the no.12 seed, in a full distance seven games duel (13-15, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-7).
A semi-final place for Chen Meng was no great upset; for the other three names, it was not to be anticipated.
In the same half of the draw as Chen Meng, Germany’s Han Ying, the no.6 seed, upset the pecking order. After recording a second round win in opposition to Singapore’s Zeng Jian, the no.13 seed (11-6, 13-11, 10-12, 14-12, 11-7), she caused a surprise of note by beating Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.4 seed (11-7, 10-12, 11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7. One round earlier, Cheng I-Ching had ended the hopes of Portuguese qualifier Fu Yu (11-7, 11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7).
Unexpected victory for Germany but in the opposite half of the draw where, as in the Men’s Singles event the second round had been completed the previous day, it was unexpected defeat Shan Xiaona, the no.10 seed, was beaten by China’s Sun Yingsha (11-7, 4-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-8).
A fine performance from one Japanese teenager who been required to compete in the preceding qualification tournament, it was the same for another; Wang Manyu beat Japan’s Mima Ito, the no.8 seed (4-11, 8-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8).
Undoubtedly a successful day for China; a day that ended with more success.
Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha, not seeded, won the Women’s Doubles title Ma Long and Xu Xin, the no.2 seeds, secured gold in the counterpart Men’s Doubles event.
After having accounted for Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, the top seeds, at the semi-final stage (10-12, 11-2, 10-12, 11-8, 11-2); Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha secured the title at the final expense of Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, the no.2 seeds (10-12, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-6). In the counterpart penultimate round duel, the Korean duo had accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng I-Ching, the no.4 seeds (13-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-3).
Meanwhile, Ma Long and Xu Xin, the no.2 seeds, were in no mood for charity. After beating compatriots, qualifiers Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan in straight games in the penultimate round (11-6, 11-6, 11-9); they handed out the same severe punishment when facing Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura, the no.6 seeds (11-9, 11-3, 11-7).
In the counterpart semi-final Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura had caused somewhat of a surprise. They beat colleagues, Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima, the top seeds (11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9).
Play concludes in Tokyo on Sunday 18th June with the semi-finals and finals of both the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events.