by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Neither confrontation was to be anticipated when play commenced on the penultimate day of action.
In a quite sensational contest, Kazuhiro Yoshimura beat Korea Republic’s Lim Jonghoon by the very narrowest of seven game margins (11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 7-11, 14-12, 10-12, 12-10) to book his final place; the deciding game being one of sheer drama.
Kazuhiro Yoshimura established an 8-3 lead before Lim Jonghoon won seven points in a row to hold two match points at 10-8; incredibly Kazuhiro Yoshimura won the next four points to secure the victory.
Earlier in the opposite half of the draw it had been a reversal of fortunes for Korea Republic; Cho Seungmin accounted for China’s Zhou Qihao (11-9, 3-11, 11-4, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9).
Notably, all four semi-finalists were qualifiers, a situation which has never happened in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles or Women’s Singles event since the concept first saw the light of day in 1996.
At the quarter-final stage Zhou Qihao beat fellow qualifier, Sweden’s Jon Persson (15-13, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 14-12); Cho Seungmin accounted for Maharu Yoshimura, the no.9 seed and elder brother of Kazuhiro Yoshimura (11-7, 11-7, 11-1, 9-11, 10-12, 6-11, 11-5). Likewise, Lim Junghoon overcame Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-3, 10-12, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9), Kazuhiro Yoshimura ended the hopes of Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu (20-18, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9).
Upsets in the latter stages of the Men’s Singles event; it was the same in the counterpart Women’s Singles competition, the biggest surprise being the quarter-final defeat of former World no.1, Liu Shiwen, the no.7 seed by colleague and qualifier He Zhuojia (11-9, 11-5, 3-11, 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9).
A place in the penultimate round booked but for He Zhuojia there was no further progress, she was beaten by Chen Xingtong, the no.6 seed (6-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7) as China asserted authority.
Success for Chen Xingtong, who at the quarter-final stage had recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat compatriot Zhang Rui (8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8), a feat Wang Manyu, the no.3 seed emulated in the penultimate round when facing Japan’s Mima Ito, the no.5 seed. Eventually Wang Manyu emerged successful by the minimal two point margin in the decider (8-11, 5-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10).
Notably, at the quarter-final stage, Wang Manyu and Mima Ito had ended Korean hopes; Mima Ito had overcome qualifier Lee Eunhye (12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9), Wang Manyu had halted the journey of Suh Hyowon, the no.8 seed (11-8, 10-12, 11-1, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3).
The finals’ programme commences at 2.00 pm (local time) on Sunday 27th May