03 Nov 2019

Eyes focused more intently by the month, week, day and hour on Tokyo; the names of the gold medallists in the Japanese capital city next year in late August, undoubtedly more than one was announced on the second day of play, Saturday 2nd November, at the 2019 Dutch Para Open, in Stadskanaal.

No less than 11 players, six men and five women won who have achieved the pinnacle of success at the Paralympic Games, emerged as champions; furthermore there were three names who claimed the top prize in the Brazilian city that had to settle for a place lower down the order.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In the women’s singles events, for China there was a level of disappointment; Liu Jing, Xue Juan and Zhou Ying gained medals but the one that shines the brightest.

Gold medallist at three most recent Paralympic Games, competing in class 2, Liu Jing, the no.2 seed experienced a semi-final defeat at the hands of Italy’s Giada Rossi, the top seed. Determined, the recently crowned European champion recovered from a two games to nil deficit to secure victory (14-16, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-6).

A full distance win for Giada Rossi, it was the same in the final when facing Brazil’s Catia da Silva Oliveira (7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-5), who the previous day had also beaten Liu Jing (11-6, 11-5, 11-4) to reserve top place in the group. Furthermore, Liu Jing was a player in form; some six days earlier she had won on home soil in Hangzhou at the China Para Open.

Liu Jing, gold medallists at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Photo: Richard Kalocsai)
Similar scenario

Bronze for Liu Jing, for gold medallists in Rio de Janeiro, Xue Juan and Zhou Ying, it was a similar scenario. In class 3, Xue Juan, who the previous week had won in Hangzhou and was the no.2 seed in Stadskanaal, experienced a semi-final defeat at the hands of Sweden’s Anna-Carin Ahlquist, the top seed (11-8, 11-6, 3-11, 10-12, 14-12) and gold medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

A tension packed contest it was the same in the final when facing Croatia’s Andela Muzinic, the surprise winner the previous day when facing Xue Juan (7-11, 11-8, 11-3, 6-11, 11-7). Once again Anna-Carin Ahlquist remained focused, she prevailed in five games (11-5, 12-14, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6).

“It was a tough match, it’s always a tough match against Andela Muzinic, she is a really amazing player. I am very happy, also the venue is amazing, the balls, the tables, the light, everything! I will not be playing in the team event, we are leaving for Japan tomorrow. We will visit the venue for the Paralympic Games next year in Tokyo and also watch the ITTF Team Word Cup.” Anna-Carin Ahlquist

Surprise outcomes, a matter of conjecture; however, the silver medal for Zhou Ying in class 4 was an upset. The top seed, the runner up the previous week in Hangzhou, it was the same outcome. In the final she was beaten by Germany’s Sandra Mikolaschek, the no.2 seed (11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7).

Sandra Mikolaschek upset the odds to win women’s singles class 4 (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)
Rio gold medallists strike gold

Otherwise, in the women’s singles events, China’s Zhang Bian and Mao Jingdian in addition to the host nation’s Kelly Van Zon, all gold medallists in 2012 in London and two years later in Rio de Janeiro, struck gold; a situation that also applied to Poland’s Natalia Partyka who has claimed the top prize at every Paralympic Games since winning in 2004 in Athens.

All occupying the top seeded position, in a group organised event, Zhang Bian secured the class 5 title finishing ahead of Jordan’s Khetam Abuawad and Sweden’s Ingela Lundbäck. Good form from Zhang Bian, to the delight of the host nation it was the same from Kelly Van Zon in class 6-7. She accounted for China’s Wang Rui, the reigning Asian champion, to seal the title (11-8, 11-8, 11-8). Notably, it was the second victory for Kelly Van Zon against Wang Rui; one the opening day, they met in the group stage, on that occasion it had been success in four games (11-13, 11-8, 12-10, 11-8).

Moreover, Wang Rui was in form; the previous week she had won in Hangzhou, in Nitra at the semi-final stage, Wang Rui had ousted Turkey’s Kubra Korkut, the no.2 seed (11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8).

“Of course it is very nice to play here in the Netherlands for me. Quite a few top players are participating in all classes. I finally managed to avoid the Turkish player Korkut in a tournament. Not that I want to avoid someone but I almost always play against her internationally. I played a very nice tournament. Korkut lost to the Asian champion and I won twice against her in this tournament; because I have already qualified, I can now map my route to the Tokyo Paralympic Games. I have one more tournament in Costa Rica this year. I hear from all players is that the tournament is well organised; for that I want to thank the association, Pagedal, the volunteers and everyone who has been involved in making this tournament possible!” Kelly Van Zon

Gold for Kelly Van Zon (Photo: courtesy of Dutch Para Open)
Equally clinical

Comprehensive from Kelly Van Zon; Mao Jingdian and Natalia Partyka were equally clinical. Mao Jingdian accounted for Japan’s Yuri Tomono in the class 8 final (11-6, 11-5, 11-6); in the class 10 final, fresh from competing in the Uncle Pop 2019 Women’s World Cup in the Chinese city of Chengdu, Natalia Partyka overcame Brazil’s Bruna Alexandre (11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9).

“I am happy with the win here at the Dutch Open. Finally I can relax. I did my job pretty well. I wanted to win here and I won all my matches, so off course I am happy. It was different from Chengdu where I played world top players and lost both of my matches. I have been travelling a lot in the last weeks. I am playing a lot so I am a bit tired. I am happy to have only a few more competitions until the end the year.” Natalia Partyka

Notably, Zhang Bian and Mao Jingdian had all won the previous week in Hangzhou; a situation that applied also in class 9 to compatriot, Xiong Guiyan. She remained unbeaten to finish ahead of Turkey’s Nesilham Kavas and Ukraine’s Iryna Shynkarova in a group administered event.

Xiong Guiyan aiming to return to the Paralympic arena (Photo: Richard Kalocsai)
Top seeds justify status

Intentions clear from Paralympic Games gold medal winners, it was the same in the men’s singles events. China’s Feng Panfeng, Cao Ningning and Zhao Shuai claimed titles in Stadskanaal, as did Yan Shuo, bronze medallist in Rio de Janeiro. All emerged successful as anticipated; all commenced play in the top seeded position.

Feng Panfeng claimed the class 3 title accounting for Germany’s Thomas Brüchle in the final (11-5, 11-6, 11-6); Cao Ningning overcame Frenchman, Nicolas Savant-Aira (16-14, 11-5, 11-3) to claim the top prize in class 5. Similarly, in class 8, Zhao Shuai prevailed in opposition to compatriot, Peng Weinan (11-6, 11-8, 12-10), the semi-final winner when facing Great Britain’s Ross Wilson, the reigning world champion; notably saving match point in the fourth game (10-12, 11-8, 9-11, 15-13, 11-7). Meanwhile, in class 7, Yan Shuo defeated Japan’s Masachika Inoue (11-8, 18-16, 6-11, 11-9) to claim the top prize.

“I didn’t take my chances. I should have won my match point but I just couldn’t quite get over the line. The rest of the tournament was fine and it feels good to have completed my competitions for this year and to have given myself the best chance of qualifying for Tokyo.” Ross Wilson

Ross Wilson missed his chance (Photo by Vid Ponikvar / Sportida)
Likewise situation

Similarly, gold medallist in Rio de Janeiro, Turkey’s Abdullah Ozturk, Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier and Belgium’s Florian Van Acker, all justified their top seeded places to emerge champions. Abdullah Ozturk secured the class 4 title beating China’s Zhang Yan in the final (11-3, 11-9, 11-9); also successful in Beijing Peter Rosenmeier emerged the class 6 winner, he accounted for Great Britain’s Paul Karabardak in the final (11-4, 13-11, 11-4).

“I’m very pleased with the way I played. The final was difficult as Peter was playing really well and I’m disappointed as I couldn’t pressure him more, it enabled him to be relaxed and play his game. The second game was big and I think I could have made him nervous if I had won it but he was excellent today and was a worthy winner. Overall I’m very pleased with my performance and hopefully this can be a big step towards qualification for Tokyo.” Paul Karabardak

Meanwhile, not to be overshadowed, Florian Van Acker secured the class 11 title ending the aspirations of Korea Republic’s Kim Changgi in the final (8-11, 11-1, 11-1, 11-7).

Rio de Janeiro gold medallists successful, it was the same for Poland’s Patryk Chojnowski, the winner in 2012 in London and Frenchman Stéphane Molliens, silver medallist in 2008 in Beijing. Patryk Chojnowski secured the class 10 title accounting for London bronze medallist, Indonesia’s David Jacobs in the final (9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5); Stéphane Molliens claimed the class 2 top prize, overcoming Ukraine’s Oleksandr Yezyk in the final (7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 13-11).

The top prize for Stéphane Molliens (Photo by Vid Ponikvar / Sportida)
Surprise outcomes

Once again, it was success in the men’s singles competition for the top seeds; however, there were two surprise outcomes. Italy’s Andrea Borgato won class 1, Japan’s Koyo Iwabuchi claimed the class 9 title.

The win recorded by Koyo Iwabuchi was no great upset; he commenced matters the no.2 seed. In the final he beat Ukraine’s Lev Kats, the no.4 seed (5-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5), the semi-final winner in opposition to Italy’s Mohamed Amine Kalem, the top seed (7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9).

Somewhat differently, the victory secured by Andrea Borgato was a surprise; not seeded, he beat colleague Federico Falco, the no.3 seed in the final (11-9, 13-11, 9-11, 11-6), having one round earlier recovered from a two games to nil deficit to end the progress of Great Britain’s Tom Matthews the top seed (7-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9).

“I feel overall that I played well but still not the standard I want to be at. The semi-final was a good match; it’s a tough one to take after being 2-0 up but he showed his experience and came out on top. He played well and went on to win the tournament so congratulations to him. Now it’s back to the training hall to prepare for next year.” Tom Matthews

Koyo Iwabuchi won men’s singles class 9 (Photo by Vid Ponikvar / Sportida)


The individual events concluded, attention now turns to the team competition, play concludes in Stadskanaal on Sunday 3rd November.

2019 Dutch Para Open: Live Stream

2019 Dutch Para Open: Live Scoring

2019 Dutch Para Open: Latest Results

2019 Dutch Para Open: Draws and Latest Results

2019 Dutch Para Open: Results – Team Events

2019 Dutch Para Open: Follow events on Twitter

Paralympics Para Table Tennis Anna-Carin Ahlquist

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