by Ian Marshall, Editor
So, if the percentage is high for male left handers, why have only three ever won the men’s singles title at a World Championships and not one of them Chinese or Hungarian, the two most successful countries in the history of the sport?
Sweden’s Stellan Bengtsson was the first, he won in Nagoya in 1971, Japan’s Seiji Ono succeeded in 1979 in Pyongyang; the most recent is Frenchman Jean-Philippe Gatien in 1993 in Gothenburg.
It is one of those questions to which there is no logical answer, just as it is suggested that there are more left handed golfers in Canada than in the United Sates!
However, the pressing point is which of those left handers on duty in Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth Stadium still be present when the penultimate day of play concludes?
Lin Gaoyuan, the top seed, faces colleague and fellow left hander, Wang Chuqin; Lin Gaoyuan starts as the favourite not only because he is the senior player but earlier this year he prevailed in the final at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open.
Awaiting the winner is the player who succeeds in the one all right handed contest, Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the no.7 seed faces China’s Liang Jingkun, the no.3 seed; despite the heroics of Mattias Falck at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest, is Liang Jiangkun the slight favourite? He beat Mattias Falck in their one prior meeting in a world ranking event when in 2017 they met in Qatar; since then much water has flowed under the bridge.
Will a left hander survive to reach the final? Mattias Falck and Liang Jingkun may well have other ideas.
The question is the same in the lower half of the draw; left handers meet in the guise of Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.4 seed and Chinese qualifier Zhou Yu. They have never met before, status and experience is on the side of Timo Boll but Zhou Yu is a young man with a point to prove. He returns to action following his three month suspension by the Chinese Table Tennis Association, as a result of ripping the rubber off his racket in January at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open when facing Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan. In Hong Kong he is in blistering form with added motivation.
Awaiting the winner is the victor of the one contest that witnesses a left hander versus right hander, the all Japanese duel sees Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.2 seed, face Jun Mizutani, the no.9 seed.
Experience favours Jun Mizutani but in their meetings in world ranking events, Tomokazu Harimoto has won on both occasions; he prevailed at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships and at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Austrian Open.
Jun Mizutani to win; then succeed in the semi-finals, before on the last day of play clinching the title.
Now that would be something; Sunday 9th May is his 30th birthday!