Third time lucky! Ito ends wait in Austria
Ito defeated Zhu Yuling (CHN) in the final (11-5, 16-18, 11-7, 13-11, 12-10) to clinch her first gold on the 2019 ITTF World Tour after two silver medals at last month’s Swedish and German Opens.
“I tried to come into the rallies and win point by point. Thank you very much to all the Japanese fans and also the fantastic Austrian crowd who were always cheering for me. DANKESCHÖN!” – Mima Ito
World no.7 Ito had booked her place in a third consecutive women’s singles final on the ITTF World Tour by defeating Qian Tianyi (CHN) in straight games (11-6, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6) in Sunday’s semi-final.
Meanwhile for Zhu, the wait for a World Tour title goes on. The world no.4 has not celebrated women’s singles gold since the 2018 Korean Open. She assured herself of silver after overcoming fellow Chinese player Wang Yidi in a gritty seven-game contest (11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 4-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-3).
Back-to-back titles for Fan Zhendong
World no.1 Fan Zhendong (CHN) continued his rich vein of form by clinching the men’s singles crown after defeating compatriot Zhao Zihao in Sunday’s final (12-10, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5).
This is Fan’s second gold medal in as many ITTF World Tour events after celebrating the top prize at October’s German Open, which had ended his 13-month wait for singles success on the Tour. Now it seems that the 22-year-old is returning fast to his formidable best.
“After winning the title in Germany and now in Austria too, this will boost my self-esteem for further challenges to come. I knew my opponent very well, as we practice together in the Chinese national team. In my opinion, winning the first game was crucial, because I got the confidence I needed to succeed.” – Fan Zhendong
No fairytale ending for Timo Boll
The headlines could have been very different for German table tennis legend Timo Boll after an extraordinary week in Austria. The 38-year-old was on the verge of edging out Fan Zhendong for a place in the men’s singles final when he led 3-1 and then held three match points in the final game of their marathon semi-final encounter (11-2, 4-11, 11-13, 5-11, 11-3, 11-5, 14-12).
Fan’s fightback showed remarkable strength, but Boll will naturally be ruing this missed opportunity to reach his first ITTF World Tour final since 2017. Nevertheless, this had been a truly classic battle between two of the game’s great players.
“This was the best Timo Boll ever played against me. In the end my mental strength helped me to power on through.” – Fan Zhendong
Boll had his fans dreaming of a special success in Linz after he posted assured victories over in-form Liam Pitchford (ENG) and compatriot Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) in the round of 16 and quarter-final respectively. Boll lost just one game (to Ovtcharov) over the course of the event prior to defeat against Fan Zhendong.
Meanwhile, Hugo Calderano (BRA) ensured that South America had a representative in the semi-finals after the “Thrill from Brazil” saw off strong opponents in the form of Kanak Jha (USA), Jeoung Youngsik (KOR) and Koki Niwa (JPN) before losing out to Zhao Zihao in straight games (10-12, 8-11, 8-11, 5-11).
Japan’s teenagers dominate the doubles
The mixed doubles gold medal went to Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto (16 years) and Hina Hayata (19), who defeated fellow qualifiers, Chinese duo Lin Gaoyuan and Zhu Yuling in the final (11-5, 4-11, 11-5, 11-6).
The women’s doubles followed a similar story of Japanese teenage stardom, as top seeds Miyuu Kihara (15) and Miyu Nagasaki (17) overcame Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tzu, the no.6 seeds (11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-4).
Impressive achievements, yet neither broke the records for youngest doubles winners on the ITTF World Tour: mixed doubles record set at the 2019 Czech Open by Korea Republic’s Shin Yubin (15) and Cho Daeseong (16); women’s doubles record set at the 2014 German Open by Japan’s Miu Hirano (13) and Mima Ito (13).
Meanwhile, the men’s doubles title went to China as no.3 seeds Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan beat the top seeds, Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu in straight games (11-8, 12-10, 11-7).
Players confirmed for 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals!
As the 12th and last event of this year’s ITTF World Tour, the Austrian Open decided the final points tallies across all five playing categories to determine who will be lining up to play at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals between 12th – 15th December in Zhengzhou, China.
Click here to see who booked their place in the end-of-year showdown!