by Ian Marshall, Editor
Win a close first game and confidence blossoms, it is a phrase I have heard time and time again; for Lin Gaoyuan it didn’t work. He secured the opening game by the minimal two point margin but in the second was never able to match Koki Niwa.
Matters level, in the second game Lin Gaoyuan established a 10-8 lead; both game points were saved, before eventually on his fifth game point he succeeded. It was to prove the crucial stage of the contest; now the adage “win a close game and confidence blossoms” rang true. Lin Gaoyuan won the first five points of the fourth game, Koki Niwa responded, he reduced the deficit to one point at 8-7 and again at 9-8 but never gained parity; Lin Gaoyuan succeeded by the minimal two point margin.
Now he had breathing space; pressuring the Koki Niwa backhand, Lin Gaoyuan dominated the fifth game; a semi-final place was booked. He meets colleague, Fan Zhendong, the top seed.
Notably, it was the eighth time that Lin Gaoyuan and Koki Niwa had met in a world ranking event. Prior to their confrontation in Paris, Lin Gaoyuan had won when they met in 2009 at the World Junior Championships in Cartagena da Indias and at 2011 ITTF World Tour in Korea, before later in the year meeting in Bahrain at the World Junior Championships. In the Boys’ Team event, Lin Gaoyuan gained the verdict but later in the final of the Boys’ Singles competition it was Koki Niwa who prevailed.
Later, in 2017 on the ITTF World Tour in Austria it was success for Lin Gaoyuan; previously, Koki Niwa having succeeded in 2010 at the Asian Junior Championships in Bangkok and at the 2011 ITTF World Tour Japan Open in Kobe.
In Paris Lin Gaoyuan increased the balance to five-three in his favour.