03 Nov 2018

Just when you think things couldn't get any more dramatic, Mima Ito produces a dazzling display on Day Three at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open to steal the show on the day that the player line-up for the two singles finals in Stockholm was finalised.

Let’s look back at the main talking points from Saturday 3rd November:

by Simon Daish

Mixed start to the day for Japan

The opening encounter of Day Three saw Ding Ning claim yet another win at Kasumi Ishikawa’s expense but it wasn’t a straightforward task for the sixth seed from China, who was forced to fight back from a 0-2 deficit before eventually crossing over the finish line with a 4-2 victory (11-13, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, 11-4, 11-5).

However, it was the other Women’s Singles quarter-final match that caught the eye as Mima Ito pulled off another stunning escape in Stockholm.

With the scoreboard firmly against her, the no.7 seed saved a Match Point in game five before going on to claim three consecutive game wins to eliminate second seed Liu Shiwen in a breathtaking seven game thriller (12-10, 7-11, 7-11, 5-11, 13-11, 11-4, 11-8).

Dima stunned as qualifier progresses

Surely the biggest name to fall in the Men’s Singles quarter-finals, Dimitrij Ovtcharov struggled to find his footing against China’s Zhou Qihao with the no.4 seed from Germany losing out to his unseeded opponent across five games (11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6).

An unexpected defeat for one major title contender but that was not the case for second seed Xu Xin, who saw off Korean qualifier Jang Woojin (9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5) to move through to the last four of the competition.

In the upper half of the draw top seed Fan Zhendong recovered from an early setback to beat fellow compatriot Liang Jingkun (10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5), setting up a meeting with the host nation’s Mattias Falck following his 4-2 victory over Kristian Karlsson in the battle of the Swedes (12-14, 11-7, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 12-10).

World champion knocked out, teenage superstar at it again!

Achieving sensational comeback wins in her two previous fixtures Mima Ito looked almost unstoppable heading into the semi-finals but surely if there was one player who could bring the Japanese teenager’s campaign to an end it was the reigning World, Olympic and Women’s World Cup champion? – guess again!

Claiming the opening two games in a convincing manner and holding two Game Point opportunities in the third, but Ding Ning would end up exiting the competition as Mima Ito prevailed 4-2 (3-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8) to book her spot in the Women’s Singles final.

“At the start of the match, I couldn’t play how I wanted, I just kept playing point by point. Today in both matches I had such a bad start; let’s hope in tomorrow’s final I can make a good start.” Mima Ito

Zhu Yuling survived an early scare in the opening stages of her semi-final match before going on to beat fellow Chinese competitor Chen Meng across six games (12-10, 11-2, 11-6, 5-11, 10-12, 11-7), improving upon her penultimate round finish achieved at last year’s tournament in the process.

“The first game was the most important, Chen Meng led 10-6, I came back to win the game, it was a major boost.” Zhu Yuling

Finalists last year, same again in 2018

Victorious without dropping a game earlier in the day, in the first semi-final of the Men’s Singles draw Fan Zhendong continued the trend with the top seed needing just four games to bring Mattias Falck’s brave run to an end (11-4, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8). Swedish hearts were broken, but overall a grand performance for the no.15 seed and the whole nation to be proud of.

“It is the first time that I have played against him. I thought he did very well yesterday to beat Lin Gaoyuan; I prepared well for this match, I watched videos of him playing. I was well aware that his forehand was special because he uses short pimples.” Fan Zhendong

Xu Xin also lived up to expectations in the other semi-final with the defending champion defeating qualifier Zhou Qihao 4-0 (11-4, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9) to set up a repeat of last year’s gold medal match.

“He is a teammate so we know each other really well. Zhou played much better earlier in the tournament, in a semi-final there is much more pressure; technically because of the pressure he made mistakes. It was a domestic match, so I could play in a relaxed way. I hope we put on a good show for the crowd.” Xu Xin

More Information

World Tour 2018 Seamaster Swedish Open Fan Zhendong Ding Ning xu xin Mima Ito Dimitrij Ovtcharov Zhu Yuling Zhou Qihao

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