by Ian Marshall, Editor
The difference is that when Chuang Chih-Yuan arrived on the scene, the leading names in the Chinese men’s team, in the guise of Chiang Peng-Lung and Chang Yen-Shu were pen-holders in traditional Asian style, powerful, using one side of the racket only.
Chuang Chih-Yuan, much more European, set the trend for those who followed; now every member of national team future generations has been a shake hands grip top spin attacking player, all a joy to watch when embroiled in rallies.
Without doubt, Chuang Chih-Yuan is the most experienced player on duty in Zagreb but in 2019, he has not found the form of some 17 years ago; a second round exit at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships, a quarter-final finish at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open, his best to date.
In Zagreb, it is very much the same situation for his major challengers; creditable performance but perhaps not headline news.
During the first week in February, Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.2 seed, reached the quarter-final round at the CCB 2019 Europe Top 16 Cup; across the Atlantic Ocean, at the Universal 2019 Pan American Cup, the next in line gained podium places. Kanak Jha of the United States was the silver medallist, Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi, the bronze medal winner.
Notably, for Gustavo Tsuboi, a confidence boosting win would do him no harm at all; at the recent Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open, the no.3 seed, he departed in round two. However, there was a degree of consolation; he partnered Eric Jouti the men’s doubles gold.
At the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Croatia Open, they are the no.2 seeds; the Belgium partnership of Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, quarter-finalists recently in Serbia, occupy the top seeded spot.
Contenders for honours, for Kanak Jha it is the same in the under 21 men’s singles event but to claim gold he may well have to cause a more than one upset; he is the no.9 seed; India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar is the name at the top of the list followed by Japan’s Yukiya Uda, Aliaksandr Khanin of Belarus and Russia’s Denis Ivonin.