by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The winner the previous week in at the ITTF Challenge Series Thailand Open and seemingly in good form in Hong Kong, having in the second round beaten colleague Sun Yingsha in four straight games (11-7, 12-10, 13-11, 11-2); Liu Shiwen, the no.7 seed, was suffered at the hands of another colleague, she lost He Zhuojia (11-9, 11-5, 3-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9), a player who in recent times has been absent from the international scene and was required to compete in the qualification tournament.
Accepted that both players are from the same national association and are thus well acquainted; nevertheless it was a major upset.
“I did a great deal of preparation for this match. It’s a breakthrough for me. It’s an invaluable learning opportunity for me. I learn a lot from all these experienced players. My goal is to advance step by step; of course my ultimate goal will to go to the Asian Games, the Olympic Games.” He Zhuojia
A hard fought success for He Zhuojia; it was the same for Wang Manyu, the no.3 seed in opposition to Suh Hyowon, the no.8 seed. In their first ever meeting on the international scene; a six games success was the order of proceedings (11-8, 10-12, 11-1, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3).
“Suh Hyowon is a defensive player. I have practised against defensive players a great deal in my training especially practising receive of service. I am satisfied with my performance of this match.” Wang Manyu
Defeat for Suh Hyowon, one match earlier it had been the same outcome for Lee Eunhye; having caused a major upset on the opening day of play by beating Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed (11-6, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6), Mima Ito restored national pride. The no.5 seed, she overcame Lee Eunhye in a closely contested six games duel (12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9).
“I started slowly I was down 2-7 in the first game. I took the first two games but then Lee got the third and fourth game. Lee is a tall player. I tried making angles but she could return everything, so I became quite tired. I am happy that I could win the match. Lee has defeated some strong players in the first and second rounds. She defeated number one seed Ishikawa, I was quite surprised. I knew that she is a strong player, so I tried my best from the very beginning. Lee is very talented and I expect I will meet her more frequently in the major tournaments from now on. I will also try to improve my skills so that I could be able to win against her in the next matches.” Mima Ito
Success for Mima Ito and she is very much alone, the only remaining non-Chinese player in the Women’s Singles event. In the one remaining quarter-final contest, an all Chinese affair, Chen Xingtong, the no.6 seed, accounted for qualifier Zhang Rui; as with Mima Ito and Wang Manyu she won in six games but rather differently, she had to recover from a two-nil deficit to ensure victory (8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).
At the semi-final stage Mima Ito meets Wang Manyu, Chen Xingtong opposes He Zhuojia; the matches are scheduled for later in the day in the evening session of play.