21 Sep 2019

Simply breathtaking, Sun Yingsha won the women’s singles title at the 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Championships in Yogyakarta on Saturday 21st September; the no.5 seed, she beat Liu Shiwen, the no.4 seed (14-12, 11-8, 13-11) to secure gold in her first ever appearance in the biennial tournament.

The success came after one hour earlier, partnering Wang Chuqin, the duo, the no.2 seeds, had experienced defeat in the mixed doubles final at the hands of Chinese national team colleagues Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen, the top seeds (11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

It was a quite outstanding effort by Sun Yingsha, it was only when leading 10-6 in the third game that there were any moments of doubt. On her fifth match point she converted.

“This is my first time to enter into the final at a relatively major event. After losing the mixed doubles, I sat down in the lounge and thought about our previous encounters and decided my tactics. I led 8-3 in the first game, then Liu Shiwen eventually got used to my pace and my placement. In the third game, I led 9-4 then she won the next two points. I called the “Time Out”; when the score went to 10-6, I began to have some other ideas and played a bit conservatively. After 11-11, she missed a ball and I had a net ball. I felt a bit lucky. I could not feel the change of Liu’s mind-set condition during the whole match; this is something I should learn from her. I still have a lot to conclude from this match.” Sun Yingsha

Unexpected defeat

Success for Xu Xin but soon after there was defeat and a somewhat surprise defeat, partnering Fan Zhendong, the top seeds, they suffered in the men’s doubles final against compatriots, Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan, the no.2 seeds (6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7).

“We lost the last time we played them, so today we came here fully prepared. We expected that it would be a tough match. Though we lost the first game, we tried our best to come back point by point.” Lin Gaoyuan

Notably for Lin Gaoyuan it was a second success in the event, two years earlier in Wuxi, he had won partnering Fan Zhendong.

Key factor

Speed was a key factor in the success gained by Liang Jingkun and Fan Zhendong; it was even more prevalent in the women’s singles event. In all Chinese semi-finals Liu Shiwen had beaten colleague Chen Meng, the top seed, in four games (11-9, 12-14, 11-2, 11-4), a contest in which Liu Shiwen led 10-8 in the second game and then held two further game points before, at her first attempt Chen Meng converted.

Win a close game and confidence blossoms, it proved to be the total opposite; Liu Shiwen accelerated, the place in the final secured.

“I wasn’t in the upper hand generally today. I didn’t lead once in four games. I didn’t get into the form quickly on court and made lots of unforced mistakes. Actually I played my game but she controlled the rhythm. She played so fast that I even didn’t have much chance.” Chen Meng

Only four points

The speed exerted by Liu Shiwen was a key factor, her close to the table counter attacking play quite outstanding; that skill was even more potent in the efforts of Sun Yingsha as she afforded compatriot, Ding Ning just four points in the opening two games. The reigning Youth Olympic Games champion gave the Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medallist no time whatsoever to draw breath; Ding Ning, using her trademark so called tomahawk service technique, slowed matters, won the third game but was never able mount a memorable recovery. Imposingly, Sun Yingsha won in four games (11-3, 11-1, 7-11, 11-9).

“I played well today and got into the form quickly. I made full preparation before the match and things went well in the first two games. In the third game, I led 6-4 and had my serve but I was mentally distracted and lost that game; then I realised when you face players like Ding Ning, you have to fight point by point and stay aggressive. I expected before the match that competing against Ding Ning, the much experienced player, would not be easy especially in tournaments like the Asian Championships so it didn’t surprise me that I lost in the third game.” Sun Yingsha

Full distance contests

Impressive from China’s leading ladies, earlier in the afternoon it had been hard fought success for their male counterparts.

At the semi-final stage of the men’s doubles event, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin had been required to recover from a two games to nil deficit to secure success against Japan’s Shunsuke Togami and Maharu Yoshimura, the no.10 seeds (4-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5). Conversely, Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan had been required to withstand a brave recovery by Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hang and Ng Pak Nam, the no.12 seeds (11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4).

Concluding day

Play concludes on Sunday 22nd September; Japan tasked with the challenge of preventing a Chinese clean sweep.

At the semi-final stage of the women’s doubles event, Miu Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.3 seeds, meet Chen Meng and Wang Manyu, the top seeds; Saki Shibata and Hitomi Sato, the no.5 seeds, confront Ding Ning and Zhuling, the no.2 seeds.

Meanwhile, in the men’s singles penultimate round, Tomokazu Harimoto flies the flag for the Land of the Rising Sun, the no.4 seed, he faces Xu Xin, the top seed; in the opposite half of the draw, Fan Zhendong, the no.2 seed and defending champion, confronts Lin Gaoyuan, the no.3 seed.

Play is scheduled to start at 1.00 pm (local time).

2019 ITTF Asian Championships Sun Yingsha

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Day 8 - 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Championships