16 Nov 2019

Success for China’s Zhao Zihao and Qian Tianyi, at the quarter-final stage of the respective men’s singles and women’s singles events on Saturday 16th November at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Austrian Open, means that the full list of qualifiers for the forthcoming ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, to be staged in Zhengzhou in December, is now known.

All that remains to be decided is the final order which will become evident once play concludes in Linz.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Each was involved in a crucial contest to decide their fate, lose and the door was open for their opponent.

At the start of the day, in the men’s singles standings, Zhao Zihao alongside Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Japan’s Koki Niwa all had chances of securing a top 16 place; beaten on the opening day of play, Japan’s Jun Mizutani owned 402 points, he occupied a qualification spot but was not secure.

Zhao Zihao, who had started his journey in the qualification tournament, beat Wong Chun Ting, the no.14 seed (7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6). Later in almost equally hard fought contest, Koki Niwa, the no.9 seed, lost to Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the no.4 seed (7-11, 11-9, 11-1, 14-12, 9-11, 11-8).

Thus following the round, Zhao Zihao possesses 389 points and presently reserves the no.16 spot; he may climb higher depending on the results on the concluding day of action. Jun Mizutani is now in the safety zone.

Neither can be caught; Wong Chun Ting finishes with 363 points, Koki Niwa 356 points. However with the suspension of China’s Wang Chuqin, who ends the year with 819 points, the door may open for Wong Chun Ting.

Zhao Zihao (furthest from camera) beat Wong Chun Ting in a seven games thriller (Photo: Rémy Gros)
Three players in contention

In the women’s singles, at the start of play both Qian Tianyi and Hina Hayata, alongside Gu Yuting, also from China had possibilities of gaining a Grand Finals qualification places. The players in danger, having departed the previous day were Japan’s Hitomi Sato, 387 points and Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee 342 points; they filled the final two places.

Gu Yuting fought desperately, she secured a three games to one lead against colleague and top seed, Zhu Yuling before succumbing to defeat (11-5, 5-11, 9-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7). The outcome was she ended the year with 299 points.

One decision taken; in the immediately ensuing contest, Qian Tianyi overcame Japan’s Hina Hayata in a similarly hard fought engagement (11-8, 17-15, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-3), both having been required to compete in the preliminary stage.

Thus Hina Hayata concludes the year with 190 points; for Qian Tianyi she has 364 points and is still counting; she moves ahead of Jeon Jihee, Hitomi Sato is assured.

Now for Qian Tianyi the question posed is can she eventually emulate the success of her coach in Linz? She was advised by Guo Yan; she won the women’s singles title in both 2008 and 2009 when the Grand Finals were staged in Macao.

Thanks to Zhu Yuling, Hitomi Sato is safe (Photo: Rémy Gros)
World Tour 2019 Austrian Open Qian Tianyi Zhao Zihao

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Day 4 - 2019 ITTF World Tour Austrian Open