by Ian Marshall, Editor
Both faced Chinese adversaries, Tomokazu Harimoto was beaten by Sun Wen (11-8, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8), Lin Yun-Ju, after overcoming Korea Republic’s Cho Seungmin (5-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9), accounted for Lin Gaoyuan, the no.2 seed (9-11, 9-11, 21-19, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9).
Disappointing for the home fans but remember Tomokazu Harimoto is not yet 16 years old. I’m not sure that comments regarding being under pressure on home soil really holds water. More the video cameras have been whirring and a tactical master plan had been designed by coach, Chen Qi.
Now, there is a name to note; if any young man at the start of the century oozed talent, it was Chen Qi. Approaching 20 years later, Lin Yun-Yu, just 17 years old, is a player of the same ilk. They are young men bestowed with immense natural talent, you just need to look at their hand skills; they learn quickly, a fact reflected in the world ranking progress in recent times of Lin Yu-Ju.
At the start of 2018, he was listed at no.134; in January this year he had risen to no.28, now he occupies the no.20 spot, a career high.
Three months ago in March, he won the men’s singles title at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open; notably he beat Sweden’s Mattias Falck in the final, the player who in April at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships was to excel all expectations by reaching the men’s singles final.
Now the goal for Lin Yun-Ju is to repeat the Oman success on the ITTF World Tour but, just as he has gradually climbed the world rankings, so it is step at a time. The next step is to reach the semi-final stage; in Sapporo he faces Brazil’s Hugo Calderano in the quarter-finals, a third name to add to the list of a major challengers to Chinese hegemony.
It is an intriguing contest, just as intriguing as the heavyweight battle in the same round between the Chinese duo of Ma Long and Fan Zhendong. Speed, fast attacking play is the hallmark of Lin Yun-Ju, power is on the side of Hugo Calderano, also a most talented sportsman; let’s be most grateful he chose table tennis!
Does a first ever ITTF World Tour men’s singles semi-final place await for Lin Yun-Ju? Also does another first await Chinese Taipei?
At the Liebherr 2013 World Championships in Paris, Chen Chien-An and Chuang Chih-Yuan won the men’s doubles title; despite trying time and time again, they have never reached an ITTF World Tour men’s doubles final!
In Sapporo at the semi-final stage they are the favourites; the no.4 seeds, they meet German qualifiers Benedikt Duda and Qiu Dang.
Could it be a day of two firsts for Chinese Taipei, at last for Chen Chien-An and Chuang Chih-Yuan, a new horizon for Lin Yun-Ju?