by Ian Marshall, Editor
In a rich vein of form, following recent successes at the Liebherr 2018 Men’s World Cup and some six days ago in Sweden, the consistency exuded by Fan Zhendong proved the telling factor against the high level of skill displayed by Koki Niwa; success in the close opening game, undoubtedly added an extra degree of confidence.
“It was not that easy, especially as the first set was very close. In order to win the match, it was important to win point by point and never lose concentration.” Fan Zhendong
A five games success for Fan Zhendong, for Xu Xin it was one game more and some nervous moments; time and again Xu Xin recovers from losing the opening game, against Tomokazu Harimoto he did the same but very nearly he went two games to nil in arrears.
The second proved crucial, Tomokazu Harimoto held game point on five occasions before on only his second opportunity, Xu Xin converted, Tomokazu Harimoto having elected for “Time Out” when ahead 13-12. Xu Xin duly captured the next two games before in the fifth; Tomokazu Harimoto established a 10-8 lead. Both game points were saved but at 11-10, Xu Xin could not repeat the feat.
Stung by the reverse, Xu Xin sped into a 7-1 and 9-3 lead in the sixth game, determined Tomokazu Harimoto won the next four points; at 10-8, Xu Xin held two match points, on his second attempt, returning service, the faintest of edges, Xu Xin prevailed.
“It was a tough match, Harimoto is a big fighter. I managed to put pressure on him and gain a lot of points due to my strong forehand. In the end, I think it was crucial to believe in myself and now I’m concentrating on the Mixed Doubles final.” Xu Xin
Success for Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin; both retained their perfect records. Now ten encounters against Koki Niwa, including earlier this year at the Asian Cup in Yokohama and on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour in China, Fan Zhendong has won all ten.
Similarly, it is four out of four for Xu Xin, notably earlier this year he beat Tomokazu Harimoto at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Australian Open.
Now at the semi-final stage, the matches to be played later today, Fan Zhendong meets colleague Liang Jingkun; Xu Xin opposes England’s Liam Pitchford. A win for Liam Pitchford and he will secure a place in the Grand Finals to be staged next month in December; defeat and the place goes to Germany’s Timo Boll.
Qualifiers for Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals – Updated List
Xu Xin (China), Fan Zhendong (China), Ma Long (China), Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan), Jang Woojin (Korea Republic), Liang Jingkun (China), Lin Gaoyuan (China), Hugo Calderano (Brazil), Jun Mizutani (Japan), Patrick Franziska (Germany), Lim Jonghoon (Korea Republic), Lee Sangsu (Korea Republic), Wong Chun Ting (Hong Kong), Liu Dingshuo (China), Koki Niwa (Japan)
Wang Manyu (China), Kasumi Ishikawa (Japan), Liu Shiwen (China), Mima Ito (Japan), Ding Ning (China), Zhu Yuling (China), Chen Meng (China), Suh Hyowon (Korea Republic), Cheng I-Ching (Chinese Taipei), Chen Xingtong (China), Hitomi Sato (Japan), He Zhuojia (China), Miu Hirano (Japan), Sun Yingsha (China), Feng Tianwei (Singapore), Saki Shibata (Japan)
Jeoung Youngsik / Lee Sangsu (Korea Republic), Masataka Morizono / Yuya Oshima (Japan), Ma Long / Xu Xin (China), Ho Kwan Kit / Wong Chun Ting (Hong Kong), Jang Woojin / Lim Jonghoon (Korea Republic), Liao Cheng-Ting / Lin Yun-Ju (Chinese Taipei), Patrick Franziska / Jonathan Groth (Germany / Denmark), Mattias Falck / Kristian Karlsson (Sweden)
Chen Xingtong / Sun Yingsha (China), Hina Hayata / Mima Ito (Japan), Jeon Jihee / Yang Haeun (Korea Republic), Chen Ke / Wang Manyu (China), Liu Gaoyang / Zhang Rui (China), Honoka Hashimoto / Hitomi Sato (Japan), Doo Hoi Kem / Lee Ho Ching (Hong Kong), Ng Wing Nam / Minnie Soo Wai Yam (Hong Kong)
Lee Sangsu / Jeon Jihee (Korea Republic), Jang Woojin / Cha Hyo Sim (Korea Republic / DPR Korea), Chen Chien-An / Cheng I-Ching (Chinese Taipei), Lim Jonghoon / Yang Haeun (Korea Republic), Maharu Yoshimura / Kasumi Ishikawa (Japan), Masataka Morizono / Mima Ito (Japan), Wong Chun Ting / Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong), Lubomir Pistej / Barbora Balazova (Slovakia)