by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Success for 18 year old Xue Fei, a young man who keeps the pen-hold grip art live but it was hard earned success.
The no.7 seed, he needed the full five games to end the progress of Slovenia’s Deni Kozul, the no.22 seed (8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 11-7), prior to capturing the title at the final expense of Korea’s Cho Seungmin, the no.2 seed (12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 11-5).
“I think I performed fairly normal in the final. It wasn’t smooth at the start, the umpire was very strict on my serves and I was penalised; that affected me a little. Luckily I was able to adapt fast mentally from the first game and focus on the match.” Xue Fei
In the opposite half of the draw, Cho Seungmin had beaten Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko in five games (9-11, 12-10, 11-9, 15-17, 11-5).
Hard fought success for Xue Fei; for Zhang Rui life was marginally less intense. The no.11 seed, she ended Japanese hopes. In the penultimate round she accounted for Kyoka Kato, the no.3 seed (11-3, 8-11, 11-3, 11-8), before overcoming Miyu Maeda, the no.4 seed (11-8, 11-7, 12-10) to arrest the title.
Victory against Miyu Maeda meant that Zhang Rui replicated the success of earlier this year in the Women’s Singles event at the Seamster 2017 ITTF World Tour China Open; on that occasion she had won in four games.
“As compared to our previous encounter, today I was definitely more calm and focused mentally. The last time I was playing in my first international event and I was really nervous but today it’s different, I’m more familiar with her playing style; I did my pre match preparations, so I was able to win three-nil today.”, Zhang Rui
In the counterpart semi-final Miyu Maeda had caused somewhat of an upset by beating Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai Yam, the no.2 seed (4-11, 11-3, 4-11m 11-6, 11-7).
It was for both Xue Fei and Zhang Rui their first ITTF World Tour titles.