15 Jun 2019

Outstanding performances on the opening day of the main draw, Friday 4th June, at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Lion Japan Open in Sapporo; as to which was the finest is open to opinion but high on the list was the performance of China’s Gu Yuting.

She beat the host nation’s defending champion, Mima Ito (7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 12-14, 12-10), before ousting colleague He Zhuojia (11-5, 7-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-9).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Both were wins contrary to status, presently on the women’s world rankings, Gu Yuting is listed at no.40, He Zhuojia at no.18, Mima Ito at no.7; furthermore, He Zhuojia was the runner up at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, Mima Ito is seen as the major challenger to China.

Impressive wins but was the most impressive factor was the discipline that Gu Yuting exerted?

Fast attacking play has always been a factor in her play but that is also a key element in the technique of Mima Ito, especially from the backhand, the side of the racket where she uses the short pimpled rubber, the ball travelling at a very low trajectory. Somewhat differently with the longer pimpled rubber on the backhand, adapting to the blocking style of He Zhoujia demanded playing with a great deal of control.

Gu Yuting adapted, high quality but when is she going to make the breakthrough?

In 2009 when saw her for the first time on international duty at the World Junior Championships in Cartagena de Indias, the 14 year old impressed. She reached the girls’ singles final losing to colleague Wu Yang, the following year in Singapore she won the women’s singles event at the first ever Youth Olympic Games, before in 2013 in Rabat being crowned World junior champion.

The following year in Shanghai and in 2015 in La Roche sur Yon, Wang Manyu was crowned World junior champion; in 2017, she reached the final again losing narrowly to Sun Yingsha who last year struck gold at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games. The successors of Gu Yuting both competed earlier this year in the Liebherr 2019 World Championships; Gu Yuting was not on the list.

On the second day of action in Sapporo can Gu Yuting state her case? At the quarter-final stage of the women’s singles event she faces colleague Chen Meng, a player with whom joined forces at the 2009 World Junior Championships.

Also could there be an omen for Gu Yuting as well as for Chen Meng? The first time Gu Yuting reached an ITTF World Tour women’s singles final was in 2013 in the Japanese city of Yokohama; she was beaten by the host nation’s Ai Fukuhara. Impressively, Ai Fukuhara progressed to win the title.

World Tour 2019 Seamaster LION Japan Open Gu Yuting

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Day 2 - 2019 ITTF World Tour LION Japan Open

Match Highlights