by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Now there have been Korean players in the past who have shone in the age group events but have still to prove themselves at a higher level; none more so than Seo Hyundeok and Kim Minseok, both on duty in Stockholm.
They have more talent than the rest of the players in the Eriksdalshallen put together, in his younger days Seo Hyundeok won six ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles titles, Kim Minseok clinched three plus the 2011 Grand Finals. Yet neither has made the next step; they must drive the Korean coaches to drink.
Park Ganghyeon is somewhat different. Seo Hyundeok and Kim Minseok may produce a first attack that makes the opponent blink; against Asuka Sakai, it was not the ploy of Park Ganghyeon, safe, then top spin strokes of which Yoo Namkyu in his heyday would have been proud.
Perhaps because he is safe in his opening top spin, it may be the formula that takes him to the next level. Is Lee Sangsu, Jeong Sangeun, Jeoung Youngsik and Park Ganghyeon a possible Korean selection for a return to Sweden next year when on the west coast in Halmstad, the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships will be staged?
In the final to be played later in the day, Park Ganghyeon confronts Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hang, the no.4 seed. In a contest that was arguably closer than the three straight games score-line suggests, the opening two games being on a knife-edge, he beat Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, the no.8 seed (14-12, 18-16, 11-5).
“I had great problems receiving service in the first two games; in the third it was much easier; his backhand is so strong, so much top spin. I think today my short play was good and winning the first two games very closely gave me confidence.” Lam Siu Hang.
Meanwhile, at the semi-final stage of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event, all-Chinese affairs, saw Wang Yidi, the no.8 seed, beat Sun Mingyang; Zhang Rui, the no.7 seed (7-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-4) overcome Chen Ke, the no.3 seed (15-13, 11-3, 3-11, 12-10).
The outcome ended the possibility of a repeat of last week’s Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open; on that occasion Chen Ke had beaten Sun Mingyang in the final.