by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Wang Manyu, the no.3 seed, had to recover from a two games to nil and three games to one deficit before eventually overcoming Japan’s Mima Ito, the no.5 seed by the very narrowest of seven game margins (8-11, 5-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10).
Meanwhile, Chen Xingtong, the no.6 seed, lost the opener against colleague, He Zhuojia who had started proceedings in the qualification tournament, before emerging victorious in five games (6-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-4, 11-2).
Wang Manyu started the favourite against Mima Ito; not just because of seeding but in their four previous encounters on the international scene, she had always won. In 2014 she had succeeded at the World Junior Championships in Shanghai before later in the same year prevailing on the ITTF World Tour in the Korea Republic. Also on the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour, she had won in both Japan and in Qatar.
Notably, none of the four matches had ever needed a deciding game but, conversely Wang Manyu was well aware that Mima Ito had remained unbeaten throughout the whole of the recent Liebherr 2018 World Championships, notably overcoming Liu Shiwen in the final against China.
“Ito has been in great form lately. She played very well especially in the first and second games. She adapted to my skills very well; that gave me great pressure. I became used to her play in the third and fourth games and it got better. I am not going to think about the next opponent now. The most important thing for now is to rest and keep my good level in the next round.” Wang Manyu
Success for Wang Manyu who maintained her unbeaten record at international level against Mima Ito; for Chen Xingtong it was the reverse scenario. She had played He Zhuojia twice before in world ranking events and had lost on both occasions.
However, I would suggests the contests had little relevance to the duel in Hong Kong; both were six years ago in Cadet Girls’ Singles events, in 2012 at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships and on the ITTF Junior Circuit in Taicang.
Winning the close third game turned matters in favour of Chen Xingtong as she adapted to the fast backhand attacks of He Zhuojia, a player who uses medium length pimpled rubber on the backhand. Gradually, the quick-fire forehand of Chen Xingtong took effect.
“I am quite satisfied with the result. It’s within my expectations. I have played Wang Manyu many times before and I lost more than I have won. I hope I could play at a high level in the final.” Chen Xingtong
The final will be played on the afternoon of Sunday 27th May.