by Simon Daish
Lin Yun-Ju’s journey was filled with potential banana skins right from round one in Olomouc, requiring an opening round comeback to see off fellow Chinese Taipei competitor Chen Chien-An in a seven-game thriller.
Victories over in form Portuguese player Marcos Freitas and Japanese qualifier Yuki Hirano, Lin then went on to post an impressive win against German legend Timo Boll (12-10, 9-11, 11-2, 11-6, 5-11, 6-11, 11-8) to book his spot in the final.
At the final hurdle another German opponent stood opposite Lin, the no.4 seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who was chasing his first ITTF World Tour men’s singles gold in two years! Having met on three previous occasions it was Lin who led the head-to-head record 2:1 with the teenager prevailing in their most recent encounter at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open.
Following a lengthy spell away from title matches on the World Tour Ovtcharov had shown promising form heading into the final, beating China’s Xue Fei, Belarusian legend Vladimir Samsonov, fellow compatriot Patrick Franziska and Brazil’s Hugo Calderano along the way. However, Lin proved too hot to handle, overpowering the former World no.1 across five games to lift the trophy.
“I am very happy to win my first World Tour title. I played against German players Boll and Ovtcharov before so I was familiar with their playing styles. In the final, I felt comfortable because I was able to attack first. Also, my coach helped me today. He called “Time Out” when I was losing and he advised me to change tactics and my service a little bit. I think that this title won’t change my career so much — the matches will be still the same, maybe even harder.” Lin Yun-Ju
Success in Olomouc might have signalled his first ITTF World Tour men’s singles title but it’s not Lin’s first highlight moment of the year: winning men’s singles gold at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open in Muscat, more recently Lin shocked the world with his awe-inspiring performance in Johor Bahru, beating an all-star cast to T2 Diamond Malaysia glory – Read about his sensational 2019 journey here.
Things are certainly looking up for Lin Yun-Ju and at just the right time with the 2020 Olympic Games just under a year away. If the young Chinese Taipei star continues to impress in the remaining months leading up to Tokyo 2020, then surely he will be present with the world’s finest in the Japanese capital.