20 May 2018

Minimal international experience, Xu Ruifeng emerged the player to upset the order of merit at the semi-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Thailand Open in Bangkok on Sunday 20th May.

Required to compete in the two day qualification tournament, he beat Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko, the top seed in six games (10-12, 12-10, 8-11, 11-1, 11-4, 11-6).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

A shock win; maybe according to world ranking but one suspects if given more opportunities Xu Ruifeng would warrant a place amongst the top 50 names; he is a regular face in the Chinese Super League and last year competed successfully for Sichuan Province in the prestigious Chinese National Games.

Somewhat differently, in 2015 he emerged successful at an international tournament in Indonesia and he did spend time in the United Kingdom practising with the Scottish National Team.

Nevertheless, his international experience when compared with that of Kirill Gerassimenko is much less but of course he hails from the country whose depth of talent is greater than anywhere on planet earth and world champions are plentiful.

Success contrary to expectations for Xu Ruifeng, it was the reverse scenario in the counterpart Men’s Singles semi-final. Japan’s Masataka Morizono, the no.3 seed, beat colleague Hibiki Tazoe in a contest that was arguably closer than the four straight games may suggest. Every game was decided by the minimal two point margin (11-9, 12-10, 12-10, 12-10).

Defeat for Hibiki Tazoe but by some distance his best ever performance at an open international tournament; his prior best being earlier this year when at the 2018 ITTF World Tour Slovenia Open he reached the third round.

Meanwhile, for Masataka Morizono it is a gentle reminder to national team selectors that he is a name most worthy of consideration.

The final will be played later in the day.

Challenge Series 2018 Thailand Open Kirill Gerassimenko Xu Ruifeng Hibiki Tazoe Masataka Morizoni

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