by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
At the semi-final stage he faces Japan’s Mizuki Oikawa, the no.24 seed; the difference in status suggests that Liao Cheng-Ting is the clear favourite; history advises quite the reverse.
They have met on one previous occasion on the international scene; last November at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open, they were adversaries at the semi-final stage of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event. Mizuki Oikawa won in four games (11-7, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7).
However, this year Liao Cheng-Ting has been a player to impress, two weeks ago at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open, he progressed through the extensive qualification stage to reach the main draw, notably accounting for Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia en route.
Awaiting in the final is a representative of Slovakia, colleagues Lubomir Pistej, the no.14 seed, meets Wang Yang, the no.17 seed; although no doubt most familiar with each other, it is the first time they have met on the international scene.
It is somewhat the same situation in the Women’s Singles semi-finals, four Japanese players on duty, all well known to each other but never adversaries in world ranking events.
Notably, all have enjoyed international success; Miyu Kato has three Under 21 ITTF Women’s Singles titles to her credit, Sakura Mori has one more but arguably the more relevant win is that recorded in Incheon last year. On that occasion, she won the Women’s Singles title at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Korea Open. Notably it was a tournament in which Minami Ando claimed the Under 21 Women’s Singles title.
Also, Honoka Hashimoto has also enjoyed ITTF Challenge Series success; last year she won in Croatia.
At the semi-final stage Minami Ando meets Sakura Mori, Honoka Hashimoto opposes Miyu Kato.
Four Japanese players present in the Women’s Singles penultimate round, there are two further young ladies from the Land of the Rising Sun on duty; Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki face Hong Kong’s Ng Wing Nam and Minnie Soo Wai Yam.
Meanwhile, in the Men’s Doubles event, Brazil’s Eric Jouti and Gustavo Tsuboi oppose Poland’s Marek Badowski and Patryk Zatowka. Both are pairs in form, en route the final, Eric Jouti and Gustavo Tsuboi beat top seeds, Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi; Marek Badowski and Patryk Zatowka accounted for second seeds, Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hang and Ng Pak Nam.
The semi-finals commence at 10.00am on Friday 6th April, the finals programme begins later in the day at 2.00pm.