01 Oct 2019

China’s QianTianyi is the reigning world junior champion; she won last December when the tournament was staged in the Australian city of Bendigo.

The first ever player to secure the prestigious title was Li Qian in 2003 in the Chilean capital city of Santiago; in her opening match in the qualification stage of the women’s singles event at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open in Stockholm, on the late morning of Tuesday 1st October, Qian Tianyi faced Li Qian.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In a hard fought contest Qian Tianyi prevailed in six games (11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 13-11, 13-11).

However, she did not beat the 2003 world junior champion, it’s wrong in wikipedia! Arguably she went one step higher; she beat the reigning European champion.

European champion

Confused, there is more than one Li Qian; the player by that name who emerged successful in Santiago never progressed to greater heights, a bronze medallist on that occasion did rather better, also from China, Li Xiaoxia became World and Olympic champion.

Li Qian, the adversary in Stockholm, hails from Baoding, about an hour by train from Beijing West Railway Station, she moved several years ago to compete in the Poland National League, representing Siarka Tarnobrzeg. In addition to her European success, she has three ITTF World Tour women’s singles titles to her credit, she won in 2006 in Warsaw, 2008 in Salzburg and 2010 in Velenje.

Classic defender

Facing Li Qian, a right handed defensive player was a major challenge for Qian Tianyi, perseverance and maturity was needed; equally Li Qian is most adept at turning defence to attack.

“It’s my first time playing in the Swedish Open, I have a very positive first impression of the city. I had to be more tactical in my game play. In the beginning I was a little anxious in the way I played; I kept wanting to use more power and to quickly finish off the point. So I had to calm myself down. I needed to be more patient, especially because my opponent attacked quite well, so I needed to make sure I could respond.” Qian Tianyi

Focused, Qian Tianyi displayed patience, as the match progressed she was prepared to play long rallies.

Follow another left hander

In style, Qian Tianyi is not too dissimilar to Li Qian, the 2003 world junior champion, a left hand top spin player. The question posed is can Qian Tianyi progress further and establish herself on the senior international scene; can she follow Ding Ning another left handed attacking player who became world junior champion? She won in 2005 in Linz.

“Now that I am playing in the senior events, I feel that the tournaments are definitely more difficult. I need to build more experience and be able to adapt to sudden changes better. I especially need to work on being able to think on my feet during the match.” Qian Tianyi

The thinking is clear but can Qian Tianyi emulate Li Qian and become a world champion. Confused again? There is yet another Li Qian; a class 3 para athlete who struck women’s singles gold at the 2010 and 2014 Para World Championships.

Continued good form

Good form from Qian Tianyi and as the opening day of action concluded, there was more good form; she beat Russia’s Valeria Shcherbatykh (7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 14-12) to keep her main draw hopes alive.

She performed very similar to another left hander who 25 years ago, in 1994, started her quest in the qualification stage of the women’s singles event at the Swedish Open.

A certain Wang Nan, she progressed to win the title and later become Olympic and World champion; can Qian Tianyi tread in illustrious shoes?

World Tour 2019 Swedish Open Qian Tianyi

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Photo Gallery

Day 1 - 2019 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open