by Ian Marshall, Editor
On the penultimate day of action, after accounting for Germany’s Meng Fanbo (11-8, 12-10, 11-5, 11-5), Emmanuel Lebesson overcame England’s Tom Jarvis, the 19 year old enjoying his best international open tournament to date.
Required like Meng Fanbo to qualify, in the third round he ousted Poland’s Marek Badowski, the no.22 seed but more significantly the runner up just under two weeks earlier in Poland (11-8, 14-12, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9). A first ever ITTF Challenge Series men’s singles quarter-final, the 2016 European champion proved a step too far; a straight games outcome was the verdict (12-10, 11-3, 11-3, 11-5).
Progress for Emmanuel Lebesson, in the opposite half of the draw there was also progress for colleague, Tristan Flore, the no.12 seed. He caused a major third round upset by beating Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic, the no.2 seed, prior to causing Germany more pain by overcoming Qiu Dang (11-8, 11-8, 11-4, 8-11, 7-11, 13-11).
Yukiya Uda and Xu Yingbin progress
A somewhat surprise semi-final place for Tristan Flore, it was same for Japan’s Yukiya Uda, the no.7 seed; he accounted for the host nation’s Pavel Platonov, the no.14 seed (11-7, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9), before ending the hopes of Sweden’s Anton Källberg, the no.9 seed (11-7, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9).
Unexpected progress but not in the guise of the one Chinese player to reach the last four; not seeded but the winner in Poland, Xu Yingbin ousted colleagues Sai Linwei (12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 11-13, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7) and Yuan Licen (11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 13-11) to reserve his penultimate round place.
At the semi-final stage Emmanuel Lebesson meets Xu Yingbin, Yukiya Uda opposes Tristan Flore; an all French final, an all Asian final or a bit of both?
Third round exit for Saki Shibata
Progress for Emmanuel Lebesson, as he seeks his first ITTF Challenge Series men’s singles title; for Saki Shibata in search of her sixth such women’s crown, it was defeat. In the third round she was beaten by China’s Zhang Qiang, the no.24 seed (11-5, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7). She duly reserved her semi-final place by ousting colleague, Feng Yalan (11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 12-10, 12-10).
Hopes of a sixth career title dashed, for colleague, Hina Hayata, they remain alive. The no.2 seed, after accounting for China’s Shi Xunyao (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4), she beat Spain’s Sofia-Xuan Zhang, the no.21 seed (11-4, 11-4, 11-3, 11-2) to keep her title hopes alive.
Success for Zhang Qiang and Hina Hayata means that China will meet Japan in the women’s singles final; in the penultimate round Zhang Qiang faces Fan Siqi, Hina Hayata opposes Honoka Hashimoto.
Impressively, following success against compatriot Wang Xiaotong (11-8, 11-13, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 13-15), Fan Siqi, required to qualify, recorded a straight games win in opposition to Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, the no.13 seed (11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 13-11). Similarly, Honoka Hashimoto, the no.4 seed, displayed no charity. Notably she halted the progress of Chinese qualifiers, her defensive skills proved too secure for Wu Yangchen (9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6) and for Kuai Man (11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7).
Again China versus Japan
China versus Japan, it is the same in the men’s doubles final; Xu Haidong and Zhao Zhaoyan face Hiroto Shinozuka and Kakeru Sone. Neither pair seeded, in the later rounds Xu Haidong and Zhao Zhaoyan accounted for Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and Tamas Lakatos, the no.4 seeds (14-12, 11-5, 11-8), prior to ousting Japan’s Yuto Kizukuri and Yuta Tanaka (11-6, 11-5, 11-8).
In the opposite half of the draw, Hiroto Shinozuka and Kakeru Sone overcame colleagues Shinosuke Togami and Yukiya Uda, the no.3 seeds (10-12, 11-2, 8-11, 15-13, 12-10), before ending the hopes of Frenchmen Bastien Rembert and Jules Rolland (9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-8).
Notably both pairs recorded semi-final wins against partnerships in form. At the quarter-final stage Bastien Rembert and Jules Rolland had beaten Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the top seeds (11-9, 11-13, 11-4, 6-11, 11-9); in the same round Xu Haidong and Zhao Zhaoyan had accounted for Tristan Flore and Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.2 seeds (4-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7).
Polish sisters excel
Surprise finalists, arguably the line up in the women’s doubles final has provided and even greater surprise.
Polish twin sisters, Anna Wegrzyn and Katarzyna Wegrzyn, qualifiers; after receiving a walk-over against Italy’s Chiara Colantoni and Jamila Laurenti, accounted for Feng Yalan and Zhang Qiang (7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7) to reserve their place in the final. Accepted that Feng Yalan and Zhang Qiang were not seeded but it is not every day in the week when a European partnership ousts a Chinese pairing at the semi-final stage of an open international tournament. Certainly not when they are twins!
Surprise finalists, in the opposite half of the draw, it was progress as status anticipated. Japan’s Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata, the top seeds, accounted for the Korea Republic combination of Kim Mingyung and Kim Yedam (11-9, 11-5, 11-7), prior to overcoming a most worthy partnership in the form of Spain’s Ana Garcia and Sofia-Xuan Zhang, the no.8 seeds (15-13, 10-12, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7).
Most impressively, at the quarter-final stage Ana Garcia and Sofia-Xuan Zhang had overcome Wu Yue and Lily Zhang of the United States, the no.4 seeds (11-7, 11-4, 11-4), Feng Yalan and Kuai Man had ended the hopes of Honoka Hashimoto and Maki Shiomi, the no.3 seeds (11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7).
No place for China in the women’s doubles final; however, in the events decided on the penultimate day of play, the sport’s superpower was very much in evidence.
Sai Linwei, after overcoming colleague Niu Guankai at the semi-final stage (11-7, 11-5, 11-6) secured the under 21 men’s singles title at the expense of Frenchman, Jules Rolland, the no.12 seed (11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 13-11); a player in form. In the penultimate round he had beaten Romania’s Rares Sipos, the no.5 seed (13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7).
Play commences at 10.00 am (local time) on Sunday 3rd November, the women’s singles semi-finals commencing the itinerary.