by Ian Marshall, Editor
Successful against Zhu Yuling on the three previous occasions when they had met earlier in the year, at the Asian Cup in Yokohama, on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour in the Korea Republic and more recently in Sweden, Chen Meng maintained her ascendancy.
Predictably it was a close duel, little to choose; the powerful forehand of Chen Meng being a crucial factor, the control exerted from the backhand by Zhu Yuling, as she made full use of the table, testing the movement and balance of her adversary. Throughout the contest both players elected to serve from the centre of the table aware of the accuracy of their opponent’s play in creating wide angles.
A three games to one lead established, in the fifth, Chen Meng appeared to be progressing to victory, she led 8-6 but did not secure another point. The recovery motivated Zhu Yuling who in the sixth game led from start to finish; a deciding game was required. Chen Meng made the better start, she established a 4-1 lead, Zhu Yuling called “Time Out”; Chen Meng won the next point. Zhu Yuling reduced the deficit to 5-4; it was at that stage Chen Meng accelerated. She won the next five points, eventually securing the game at the second attempt.
“After the three-one lead, Zhu Yuling became more aggressive and I played too passive. In the deciding game, I finally managed to take command of the match again. I didn’t concentrate on having lost the lead, I just tried to play the last game as if it was the start of the match.” Chen Meng
A hard earned win for Cheng Meng, it was the same for Wang Manyu against a spirited He Zhuojia; the fast attacking strokes from the backhand in the mode of the legendary Deng Yaping causing Wang Manyu more than food for thought. Notably more than once when required to answer the top spin play of Wang Manyu, she adapted by using the backhand from all points on the table.
The first two games shared, after a somewhat nervous start in the third, Wang Manyu seized control; in fifth He Zhoujia responded, she established a 6-2 lead. Wang Manyu won the next two points, He Zhoujia called “Time Out”. A necessary move, but it was Wang Manyu who benefitted from the break; she surrendered just two more points as her top spin play moved into a higher gear.
“I am always happy to return to Linz. I won my first Pro Tour title here and I really enjoy the atmosphere. I am delighted to be in the final, hopefully I can take the title again this year.” Wang Manyu
It was third time in an international competition that Wang Manyu and He Zhuojia had met. In 2012 in the Cadet Girls’ Singles event at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships, He Zhuoija had prevailed, two years later en route to gold, Wang Manyu had succeeded in the Girls’ Singles event at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Shanghai. In Linz she prevailed once more.
The final will be played on the afternoon of Sunday 11th November.
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)