Wang Chuqin (CHN) secured his first ever men’s singles title on the ITTF World Tour after completing a dominant 4-0 victory over compatriot Lin Gaoyuan (11-8, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9) in Sunday’s final at the 2019 Swedish Open in Stockholm.
19-year-old Wang was unseeded for the event, meaning he started his journey in the qualifying rounds. Over the course of eight matches, he remarkably dropped just two games (in the round of 32 to the host nation’s Kristian Karlsson).
The world no.22 then cruised past Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN) in what was billed as the “Battle of Generation Z” before putting three fellow Chinese team-mates to the sword in straight-game victories: Zhao Zihao, Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan.
Wang had previously lost men’s singles finals at this year’s Hungarian Open (to Lin Gaoyuan) and Australian Open (to Xu Xin), but this time would be different. The young man’s nerves might have been jangling a little after he failed to take three match and championship points, but he ultimately sealed victory at the fourth attempt.
“I performed very well today. There have been surprises along the way; most of the players I have beaten have been highly ranked, powerful players. I have waited a long time for this title and finally I succeeded! Most certainly it gives me a great deal of confidence for the future. My hope is to play in the Olympic Games. It’s a big challenge, but I hope not too big. I will fight to reach my goal.” Wang Chuqin
CHEN MENG TAKES TITLE FROM ITO’S EMBRACE
Fighting back from 3-1 down to secure the women’s singles title, Chen Meng (CHN) demonstrated yet again why she is the world no.1, as she proved to have too much for an inspired Mima Ito (JPN) in their epic final showdown (8-11, 11-6, 7-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5).
2018 Swedish Open champion Ito had looked on course to defend her title after winning three consecutive games to establish a healthy 3-1 lead. However, it was at that crucial moment that Chen turned the screw with a series of characteristically powerful strokes to claw her way back into the match and ultimately celebrate her fourth ITTF World Tour women’s singles title of 2019.
Despite the disappointing end to her tournament, Ito had impressed throughout the week with morale-boosting wins over Chinese star duo, Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu in the semi- and quarter-finals respectively. Add to that her victories in last year’s competition against fellow Chinese players Zhang Qiang, Liu Shiwen, Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling and it’s clear that Ito has a special bond with Stockholm.
“I’m very glad that I could stop Mima Ito because she has beaten six of my team-mates here. Her rise has been incredibly fast. It was much more difficult playing against her today than when I faced her several years ago. Each point was a real contest. I’m delighted to have won in Sweden, now I must prepare for Germany.” Chen Meng
CHINA DOMINANT IN THE DOUBLES
China’s star names stole the show in all three doubles categories in Stockholm:
Reigning world and Asian champions Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen (CHN) defeated Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito (JPN) by the narrowest of margins (8-11, 11-8, 13-11, 3-11, 11-9) to claim their fourth ITTF World Tour mixed doubles title since forming their prolific partnership less than a year ago.
“Today was a 50:50 match. I think we are pretty much level with Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen. They were better today in their short play in the second and third games. That gave them the advantage. It was the difference.” Jun Mizutani
Xu would celebrate gold also in the men’s doubles alongside partner Fan Zhendong, who saw off Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan over another five enthralling games (10-12, 11-1, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5).
Meanwhile in the women’s doubles, Chen Meng and Ding Ning stormed back from a game down to defeat Japanese opponents Miu Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa (5-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4).
STOCKHOLM’S SURPRISE PACKAGES
The men’s and women’s singles competitions threw up a number of interesting results along the way, starting with first-round exits for world no.3 Zhu Yuling and no.8 Kasumi Ishikawa at the hands of Miyu Nagasaki (JPN) and Liu Fei (CHN) respectively. Liu, ranked 227th in the world, would emerge as one of the stars of the week, reaching the semi-finals.
In the men’s singles, Liang Jingkun scored arguably the biggest upset by knocking out world no.1 Xu Xin in the quarter-finals, before succumbing to eventual champion Wang Chuqin in the semi-finals.
It would be a solid, if not spectacular, event for a few European names, as Simon Gauzy (FRA) and Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) reached the quarter-finals, while it would be the round of 16 for Patrick Franziska (GER). However, host nation Sweden failed to have any representatives beyond the round of 32. Their top men’s singles seed Mattias Falck – silver medallist at this year’s World Championships – was knocked out at the first hurdle by Zhao Zihao (CHN).
BUILDING UP TO BREMEN
The penultimate event on the 2019 ITTF World Tour is this week’s German Open in Bremen, where qualifying rounds take place between 8-9 October ahead of the main draw between 10-13 October. The event provides another opportunity for players to earn crucial points as they bid to reach the 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Zhengzhou, China.