by Simon Daish
With Yan An entering the competition as the no.7 seed and Lin Gaoyuan as an unseeded qualifier, the lineup for the Men’s Singles final may come as somewhat of a surprise.
However, it should be noted that reaching the concluding round has been fully deserved by both players who have been in impressive form in throughout the course of the tournament in Linz.
Victories against Florent Lambiet, Stefan Fegerl and Omar Assar sent Yan An through to the penultimate stage of the category where he claimed a stunning win against the third seed Fang Bo to reach his second ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles final of the year.
Lin Gaoyuan has arguably endured a more difficult journey to the final than Yan An, having to negotiate the qualification tournament which preceded the Seamaster 2017 Austrian Open before facing seeded competitors in each of his four main draw fixtures leading up to the title match.
Fifth seed Marcos Freitas, 16th seed Robert Gardos, second seed Koki Niwa and fourth seed Simon Gauzy all suffered defeats at the hands of Lin Gaoyuan who can feel proud of his efforts in Linz regardless of whatever the outcome of the final turns out to be.
The previous tie between Yan An and Lin Gaoyuan came at the Marvellous 12 competition prior to the Liebherr 2017 World Championships with the latter of the two players emerging successful in a straight games contest and the Men’s Singles final in Linz promises to produce another fascinating encounter between the two Chinese representatives.
Yan An is well known for his aggressive approach to the game and don’t expect to see that change for the final. But while his fast-pace at the table can dazzle opponents it also carries a high level of uncertainty, which could play right into the hands of Lin Gaoyuan.
Taking the spotlight in recent weeks following his triumphant campaign at the 2017 ATTU-ITTF Asian Cup, Lin Gaoyuan has a great opportunity to steal the headlines once again by claiming his first Men’s Singles title at a Platinum event if he can get the better of Yan An in Austria.
The Men’s Singles showdown will commence at 14:30 local time on Sunday 24th September.