by Ian Marshall, Editor
At the semi-final stage of the men’s singles event, Ma Long, the no.5 seed, meets compatriot and qualifier, 19 year old Wang Chuqin, the player with whom he won the men’s doubles title at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships earlier this year.
Undoubtedly, with wins in opposition to Japan’s Tomokaszu Harimoto, England’s Liam Pitchford colleague, Liang Jiangkun, Wang Chuqin has proved himself a most worthy semi-finalist but facing Ma Long is a very different proposition.
Similarly, in the counterpart penultimate round contest, Germany’s Patrick Franziska, the no.15 seed, faces China’s Xu Xin, the no.3 seed; they have met on nine previous occasions in world ranking events, Xu Xin has won all nine including earlier this year in Doha. There is always a first time, Patrick Franziska proved that when he beat Fan Zhendong, the top seed, in round two.
A final between Ma Long and Xu Xin is the favourite option and should it happen Ma Long surely has extra motivation. Last week in Busan was the first time in five encounters since 2016, when Xu Xin prevailed in the final in Incheon, that Ma Long has lost to his colleague in a world ranking event.
Similarly, for Ding Ning there is an extra motivation; accepted last September she won the Uncle Pop 2018 Women’s World Cup in Chengdu but it is approaching one year since she last won on the ITTF World Tour, her most recent success was last August in Panagyurishte.
In Geelong Sun Yingsha, who has yet to beat Ding Ning on the international scene, awaits in the final; a tall order for the 19 year old but the results witnessed in Geelong suggest expect the unexpected.
Could the reigning Youth Olympic Games champions, Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha strike more gold?