by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Notably the reigning Olympic and World champion, Ma Long did not appear in the Chinese selection, he was resigned to the bench, the Koreans relied on the trio that had secured the place in the final.
For the doubles, Korea chose the tried and trusted pair; they threw Lee Sangsu and Jeoung Youngsik into the ring against Chinese superstar duo of Xu Xin and Liang Jingkun.
From the start of the match, it was as if the Chinese were going to have their way easily after taking a 2-0 (11-8, 11-4) lead. However, after an aggressive display, the Koreans restored parity to 2-2 (12-10, 11-7) to the applause of the fans at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. The fifth match was electrifying with both teams entertaining the fans with their flawless rallies. The surprise happened when the Koreans stunned the Chinese to win the final game at 12-10 and hand the alleged underdogs a 1-0 lead.
Fan Zhendong restored parity by beating Jang Woojin in straight games (11-8, 11-8, 11-9), before Jeoung Youngsik took a two games to one lead against Liang Jingkun in the third match of the contest, only to lose the fourth by the very narrowest of margins (11-9, 8-11, 10-12, 15-13, 11-8).
China ahead, Fan Zhendong overcame Lee Sangsu (11-8, 11-4, 11-8) to conclude matters,
However, the performance of the Korea Republic is a pointer as to what to expect at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; this was elucidated in style of Jang Woojin and Lee Sangsu.
“I think we played very well in this competition and I think we had a chance to win the tournament after winning the doubles match. But everybody knows that the Chinese are very strong and this they showed again today. For us making it to the final has shown that we can also do that at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and probably do better than this to win gold . Generally, with our performance in this competition, our confidence have been boosted going into the Olympic Games” Jang Woojin
For Lee Sangsu, the performance at Tokyo 2019 has been likewise an injection of self-belief going to Tokyo 2020.
“After winning the doubles match, we thought we had chance, but the Chinese have strong players and they came out stronger in the singles. We hope we can do better at Tokyo 2020 and look forward to it at this same venue in 2020.” Lee Sangsu.