by Ian Marshall, Editor
In Stockholm, Fan Zhendong had lost the opening game against Liang Jingkun and had then imposed his authority on proceedings to win the next four (10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5). After securing the third game we waited for him to press the accelerator as he had done the previous week.
It did not happen, it was quite the reverse. Liang Jingkun, prepared to match Fan Zhendong in the counter top spin department, established an 8-4 lead in the fifth; Fan Zhendong reduced the arrears to one point at 8-7 but never gained parity.
Maintaining the momentum in the sixth game Liang Jingkun went ahead 5-2, Fan Zhendong called “Time Out”. He levelled at 8-all but never gained a lead; at 10-8 Liang Jingkun held two match points, on the second attempt he succeeded. Arms in the air, he celebrated in style.
“It’s a special moment for me of course, I am incredibly satisfied with my performance and my win against Fan Zhendong. I felt light headed; I fought for every point and gave everything I had. Tomorrow I will try to maintain my level of play; the outcome of the match is written in the stars.” Liang Jingkun
In now six meetings in world ranking events it was the first time he had beaten Fan Zhendong; moreover, on the international stage it was only the second defeat of the year for Fan Zhendong. The other was in early June when suffering against colleague, Ma Long, in the Men’s Singles final at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum, Kaisa China Open.
Success against the odds for Liang Jingkun, it was not to be for Liam Pitchford, like Liang Jingkun a qualifier. The Englishman was never able to find the momentum of the previous day, the forehand of Xu Xin proving lethal, not only in the power department but with subtle changes of spin that forced errors from his adversary when control and blocking skills were needed.
After winning a close opening game, Xu Xin controlled proceedings, a “Time Out” call by Liam Pitchford when trailing 4-2 in the fourth game proved to no avail, Xu Xin never relinquished the advantage, a place in the title deciding contest was secured.
The final of the Men’s Singles event will be staged on the afternoon of Sunday 11th November.
Qualifiers for Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals – Full List
Xu Xin (China), Fan Zhendong (China), Ma Long (China), Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan), Liang Jingkun (China), Jang Woojin (Korea Republic), 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), Timo Boll (Germany)
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)