by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Not the best preparation but very quickly Li Yu-Jhun adapted. She beat Japan’s Misaki Morizono, ranked no.37 (8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8), whilst at the same time Zhang Qiang overcame Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, listed at no.42 in the global order (13-11, 12-10, 11-7, 12-10).
The two wins mean the both players secured first place in their respective groups and thus passports to the main draw. On the opening day of play each accounted for Australian opposition. Li Yu-Jhun overcame Wu Jiamuwa (11-8, 13-11, 11-8, 11-6); Zhang Qiang overcame Melissa Tapper (11-5, 11-7, 11-1, 11-4).
Surprise outcomes but Li Yu-Jhun and Zhang Qiang are no strangers to international play; the reason that neither appears on the present day world rankings is owing to a recent absence from international play.
Li Yu-Jhun returned to ITTF World Tour duty just under three weeks ago in Japan, having not competed since last September when she was present in China. Somewhat similarly, the most recent appearance for Zhang Qiang, a player who keeps the pen-hold grip style of play alive, was in Germany in March 2015. On that occasion she reached the second round of the Women’s Singles event, losing to the host nation’s Petrissa Solja.
“I don´t really have a lot of international experience so I just tried to be relaxed and focus on the game rather than other things; for the main draw I don´t have high expectations will just try to do my best for the next matches.” Li Yu-Jhun
Following the performance in Germany, later in the year in May, Zhang Qiang rose to no.64 on the world rankings; the best for Li Yu-Jhun is no.181 in November 2016.
Two surprise defeats for the players who are the respective second and third highest rated in qualification tournament duty; for the other leading ladies, in their opening matches. there were no such pitfalls. Both accounted for Australian opponents.
Japan’s Sakura Mori, at no.35, the highest listed on initial phase duty, beat Sarah Tan (11-9, 11-2, 11-8, 11-8); China’s Wang Manyu, at no.43, the fourth in the pecking order, overcame Danni-Elle Townsend (11-4, 11-2, 11-3, 11-1).