by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Disappointment for the runners up at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf; conversely, it was success for the partnership that won the title at the GAC 2011 World Championships in Rotterdam.
The host nation’s Ma Long and Xu Xin, the no.3 seeds, beat Chinese Taipei qualifiers, the combination of 22 year old Liao Cheng-Ting and 16 year old Lin Yun-Ju; a pair that may well have a very rosy future ahead of them. They were beaten in three straight games but the first and third were only by the minimal two point margin (12-10, 11-4, 13-11).
“We practised before the match. They are quite competitive; we are here to gain experience. At the crucial stages they were better at controlling the ball. They adapted better.” Liao Cheng-Ting
A semi-final placed booked, it was the same for their colleagues, Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan, the no.6 seeds, who progressed by the most comfortable method possible. They received a walk-over when due to face the 2015 European champions, the partnership formed by Austria’s Stefan Fegerl and Portugal’s João Monteiro.
Progress for the Chinese pairs as anticipated, a surprise semi-final place for Korea; there was also an unexpected penultimate round berth for Romania in harness with Spain. Ovidiu Ionescu and Alvaro Robles combined to beat fellow qualifiers, the French combination of Alexandre Cassin and Emmanuel Lebesson (8-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-7).
In the penultimate round Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan meet Jang Woojin and Lim Jonghoon, Ma Long and Xu Xin confront Ovidiu Ionescu and Alvaro Robles. The matches are scheduled for 10.00 am on Friday 1st June.