by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Some five days ago in Hong Kong, the gods of sport had not shone on the forehead of Lim Jonghoon; he was beaten by Japan’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura, the champion elect, in a momentous seven games semi-final encounter decided by the minimal two point margin.
It was a different story in Shenzhen.
“I’m also a left-hander, like him. It’s a great pleasure and honour to win. I lost the first game but I did not panic. Xu Xin wasn’t in his best state today; he did not control the play well. I took my chances. I like Xu Xin and have learned a lot from him. I started to watch his matches on video when I was around 15 years old.” Lim Jonghoon
“It was my first time to play against him but I heard that he defeated Zhou Yu. I lost the match mainly because I failed to adjust. I failed to prepare for my opponent’s speed. He played aggressively and hard; that’s the character of South Korean players, they fight hard, their aggressive playing style can put the Chinese team under pressure. I am a little exhausted after participating in quite a lot of matches. I still have other events. Losing this match, I am still clear headed.” Xu Xin
Now in Shenzhen not only did the gods shine on Lim Jonghoon, they also shone on colleague, Jang Woojin. Likewise he upset the seeding by beating Portugal’s Marcos Freitas the no.14 seed in a very similar manner; he won in five games (11-6, 12-14, 11-3, 11-6, 11-7).
Two major upsets and two more as play began in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event. England’s Liam Pitchford and Frenchman, Emmanuel Lebesson upset the ranked order.
Both like Lim Jonghoon and Jang Woojin qualifiers, Liam Pitchford beat Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the no.11 seed (11-9, 11-7, 11-13, 10-12, 11-6), Emmanuel Lebesson overcame Egypt’s Omar Assar, the no.16 seed (9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8, 11-3). The win meant that Liam Pitchford maintained his ascendancy over the young man who hails from Rio de Janeiro. On the ITTF World Tour in 2016 Liam Pitchford emerged successful in Sweden, before repeating the feat earlier this year at the Team World Cup in London.
Surprise outcomes, in the remaining four matches completed in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event on the first day of play, it was success for the highly rated and the end of the road for Slovenia.
Darko Jorgic was beaten by Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.2 seed (11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7); Bojan Tokic lost to Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.8 seed (11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 4-11, 6-11, 11-9).
Meanwhile, to the delight of the home fans Fan Zhendong, the top seed, beat Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik (5-11, 11-5, 11-2, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8); Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.6 seed, overcame Austria’s Robert Gardos (7-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7).
“I was aware of difficulties after losing the first game. I needed to be patient and earn every point.” Fan Zhendong
The remaining matches in first round of the Men’s Singles event plus the second round in entirety will be played on Friday 1st June.