by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
There have been surprises upon surprises in Spala but there is a strong argument that Cho Daeseong caused the biggest of all; he beat Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the no.2 seed (10-12, 13-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8) to reserve his place in the penultimate round.
Moreover, Kou Lei is very much a player in form; last week at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open, in a field that witnessed the majority of the very best players in action, he reached the second round of the Men’s Singles event beating Portugal’s Marcos Freitas en route.
It is new horizons for Cho Daeseong, it is the same for Lim Junghoon, who is only 21 years old; the no.8 seed, he ended the hopes of Japanese qualifier Yukiya Uda (11-7, 5-11, 15-13, 11-6, 11-7). Lim Jonghoon has enjoyed notable success on the ITTF World Tour in Under 21 Men’s Singles event; in 2016 he won in Hungary and on home soil in Korea; last year he retained his Korean title whilst also succeeding in Japan. However, a Men’s Singles Challenge Series semi-final is new territory.
Meanwhile, for Jeoung Youngsik and Jang Woojin, the semi-final round of an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles event is not new. Notably Jang Woojin won in Belarus in 2016, Jeoung Youngsik one year earlier in Australia and Korea.
In Spala in the penultimate round, Jeoung Youngsik, the no.27 seed, beat German qualifier, Qiu Dang (11-6, 11-5, 12-10, 11-5); in a similarly impressive manner, Jang Woojin, the no.4 seed, ended the hopes of Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, the no.18 seed (11-7, 13-11, 11-8, 12-10).
At the semi-final stage Jeoung Youngsik plays Jang Woojin, Lim Junghoon opposes Cho Daeseong; the matches are scheduled for the late morning of Saturday 17th March.