by Ian Marshall, Editor
Success against the odds and from two players who are very different; style is the obvious. Lubomir Pistej is a powerful right hander true to the best European traditions, Yu Ziyang, the quicksilver left hander.
Lubomir Pistej has proved himself supremely reliable in the past decade, he is the backbone of the Slovakian men’s team, always he will give a totally committed performance. He possesses a very strong work ethic, a role model in that respect. He has no lack of talent but he is not a player who is going to produce the ridiculous; a strong, honest work ethic has been his forte.
He demonstrated his qualities to the full at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships, he reached the fourth round, losing to Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto. Last year at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments he was a semi-finalist in Belarus, the runner up in Slovenia. Just as in Shenzhen he has proved himself a most worthy competitor but as yet to reserve the top step of the podium.
Now consider Yu Ziyang, he is trying to establish himself in his nation’s men’s team, just he has chosen the most difficult of all!
However in 2014 did we not think that would happen? In that year was crowned world junior champion in Shanghai, having some five months prior won the men’s singles title on the ITTF World Tour in Japan beating Jun Mizutani in the final. At the time he was 16 years old and the youngest to achieve the feat.
Did we not think that those two wins were springboards to higher things? It hasn’t happened, yet watching him play, the undoubted natural skills evident it should have happened.
Can it happen in Shenzhen? In round two both face awesome tasks, Lubomir Pistej confronts Fan Zhendong, the top seed, Yu Ziyang confronts Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.5 seed.
Win or lose, for each it is an opportunity to make a mark.