10 Oct 2018

A contest to behold, one to delight especially for the neutral, responding to the theatre of the big occasion and facing a young man of equal quality, Kanak Jha of the United States secured the bronze medal in the Men’s Singles event at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games on the evening of Wednesday 10th October.

In the vital play-off contest, the no.2 seed, he beat Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, the no.4 seed by the very narrowest of seven game margins (6-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-3, 8-11, -11, 11-9).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

At the semi-final stage against China’s Wang Chuqin, the no.6 seed, Kanak Jha had not made the best of starts, he had lost the first six points; against Lin Yun-Ju, the situation was very similar. He won just one of the first eight points; the only consolation being that from 10-3 in arrears he saved three game points.

Able to attack quickly after the service with his electric forehand, Lin Yun-Ju had dominated the first game, in the second the late run of success in the first game seemed to have injected confidence into the heart of Kanak Jha. Now more positive, he secured success.

Parity, it was at this stage of the contest, the level of play and in particular the quality of the rallies rose; in the third game after leading 9-7 and then losing the next three points, before saving one further game point, Kanak Jha emerged successful. In the opening game he had not been able to match the speed of the Lin Yun-Ju forehand; in the second and third games he responded.

Growing in confidence, in the fourth game Kanak Jha established a 5-2 lead, Lin Yun-Ju called “Time Out”; however, the gap was never closed, in fact it was increased. Kanak Jha surrendered just one more point, his forehand top spin down the line to the left handed Lin Yun-Ju forehand proving a most effective tactic.

Every point won, Kanak Jha turned towards coach Stefan Feth, with fist clinched, to acknowledge the advice given was proving profitable.

Moving well, playing positively, in the fifth game Kanak Jha went ahead 6-3; Lin Yun-Ju reduced the deficit to one point at 6-5; Stefan Feth called “Time Out” sensing a Lin Yun-Ju recovery. He was proved correct, exhilarating rallies, especially the one that saw Lin Yun-Jun secure two game points at 10-8, witnessed a change in momentum in the contest. At the first attempt the game was secured; the match deficit was reduced to one.

Now the Lin Yun-Ju of the opening game was back in action; incisive, quick with the first attack, he dominated the sixth, a deciding seventh beckoned.

It was to prove a game in which Kanak Jha was never behind, at the change of ends he led 5-3 but at 9-all it was parity, serving he remained stable, no hint of panic, he secured the next two points and ran into the welcoming arms of Stefan Feth.

“It’s dream come true, it’s absolutely unbelievable, the competition here is tough with so many top level players competing, I couldn’t imagine taking a medal here but I’m so happy that I did it! I knew this was going to be a tough match, Lin Yun-Ju is a top player not just in juniors but also in the seniors category. After he caught up to level the score at three-three, I was slightly disturbed but I knew I had to refocus and concentrate in the last game. I’m so glad I made it.” Kanak Jha

Thus for Lin Yun-Ju it was exactly the same scenario as in the morning against Tomokazu Harimoto. Similarly he had won the first game, lost the next three and then had won two in a row before experiencing a seventh game defeat.

Conversely for the United States of America it was a second Youth Olympic Games medal; four years ago in Nanjing, Lily Zhang had won Women’s Singles bronze.

Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Lin Yun -Ju Kanak Jha

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Day 9 - Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games