Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The focus was on two teenagers, Japan’s 13 year old Tomokazu Harimoto and China’s 16 year old Sun Yingsha; could they continue their quite incredible run of form that had seen them cause upset after upset? It was not to be; status prevailed.
After Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen, the top seeds, had beaten compatriots Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling, the no.4 seeds, in the Women’s Doubles final (9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 12-10), Tomokazu Harimoto, alongside 16 year old Yuto Kizukuri, entered the arena.
A brave performance but it was their colleagues, Jin Ueda and Maharu Yoshimura who prevailed (12-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9); Maharu Yoshimura, having won the Mixed Doubles title in partnership with Kasumi Ishikawa at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships, being now very much the master of the art.
Defeat for Tomokazu Harimoto, now the spotlight shone on Sun Yingsha; she threatened to cause yet another upset by winning the opening game against Ding Ning, the top seed. However, after a close second game, Ding Ning asserted authority to win in five games (8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7, 11-6).
Two potential moments of sensation averted; the Men’s Singles final provided the drama. Just as in the final at the Liebherr 2017 Liebherr World Championships, when two players from the same national association had appeared, China’s Ma Long and Fan Zhendong producing a match to remember, so in Chengdu did the German duo of Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.5 seed and Timo Boll, the no.7 seed.
The contest went the full seven games distance; leading 10-6 in the decider it seemed Timo Boll was home and dry. Incredibly, Dimitrij Ovtcharov won the next six points to steal the win (17-15, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 7-11, 6-11, 12-10); the German had produced the sensation.
Play concluded in Chengdu, attention now turns to the southern hemisphere; the 2017 ITTF World Tour Australian Open commences in Gold Coast one week hence on Sunday 2nd July.
China’s Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin and Zhang Jike followed by Japan’s Jun Mizutani are the leading names listed in the Men’s Singles event; in the counterpart Women’s Singles competition Zhu Yuling leads the order, followed by Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, Cheng Meng and Japan’s Kazumi Ishikawa.
More drama to follow, no doubt; the question is from who?