by Ian Marshall, Editor
Success for Shunsuke Togami, it was more than success; it was revenge.
At the semi-final stage of the boys’ team event against China, in the second match of the engagement when facing Xu Yingbin, after holding a two games to nil lead, he experienced defeat (6-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7).
In the boys’ singles Shunsuke Togami had a point to prove; he proved the point indelibly. In the opening round he recovered from a three games to one deficit to beat Iran’s Amin Ahmadian, the no.3 seed (12-10, 7-11, 10-12, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5), before ousting Xu Yingbin in a similarly tension packed contest (13-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-9, 5-11, 3-11, 11-9).
Favourite for gold
Revenge was extracted and even though Xu Yingbin had been required to compete in the qualification tournament, was he not the favourite for the title?
In the first week of September he had won the junior boys’ singles title at the 2019 Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Ulaanbaator beating Xiang Peng in the final. Just over one month ago he had secured the men’s singles title at the ITTF Challenge Series Polish Open in Wladyslawowo.
Moreover, in the boys’ team semi-final against Japan he had been the mainstay of China’s success, remaining calm and resolute when crisis arose. In addition to his narrow win against Shunsuke Togami, he kept Chinese hopes alive by overcoming Yukiya Uda in the vital fourth match of the fixture (8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 13-11).
Two close wins; for Shunsuke Togami, the well worn adage of win a close match and confidence blossoms, rang loud and clear. At the quarter-final stage, he ended the hopes of Poland’s Samuel Kulczycki, the no.7 seed, in straight games (11-6, 12-10, 11-9, 12-10).
A surprise semi-final place for Shunsuke Togami, it was the same to a lesser extent for Sweden’s Truls Möregard and for Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin.
Truls Möregard, the no.12 seed, the runner up at the World Junior Championships in 2017 in Riva del Garda and earlier this year the winner at the European Youth Championships in Ostrava, underlined the fact that he had recovered from the injury, which had kept out of the Team World Cup staged earlier this month in Tokyo.
After recording an opening round win against Nikhil Kumar of the United States (18-16, 9-11, 4-11, 11-4, 11-7, 12-10), he accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Tai Ming-Wei, the no.5 seed (11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7) and China’s Liu Yebo, the no.19 seed (11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-9) to reserve his place in the penultimate round. Notably in the second round Liu Yebo had beaten Polish qualifier, Maciej Kubik (11-9, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6), the opening round winner in opposition to Russia’s Lev Katsman, the no.2 seed (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 14-12).
Impressive from Truls Möregard, it was the same from Feng Yi-Hsin. The no.15 seed, after overcoming Belgium’s Olav Kosolosky (11-7, 11-9, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8), he ended the hopes of China’s Zeng Beixun (12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7) and Frenchman Vincent Picard, the no.4 seed (11-5, 9-11, 9-11, 11-13, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8) to reserve his last four place. Notably, in the opening round, Zeng Beixun had ousted Singapore’s Pang Yew En Koen (11-7, 11-6, 11-4, 16-14).
Top seed progresses
Unexpected semi-finalists according to seeding; the one other name was as anticipated. The top name on the list, China’s Xiang Peng advanced in some style and like Shunsuke Togami extracted revenge. In the opening match in the boys’ team semi-final contest against Japan, Xiang Peng had lost to Yukiya Uda (11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 11-7).
In the boys’ singles competition, after beating the Czech Republic’s Tomas Martinko (11-7, 11-5, 11-6, 11-9) and Frenchman Lilian Bardet, the no.13 seed (12-10, 11-6, 11-5, 14-12), Xiang Peng recorded a six games win against Yukiya Uda, the no.6 seed (11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-5) to secure his semi-final place. A quarter-final exit for Yukiya Uda, it was two steps short of last year in Bendigo, in the Australian city he had been the runner up.
Avenging earlier defeats, it is in the air on the concluding day of play; at the semi-final stage Shunsuke Togami meets Xiang Peng, the player against whom he had suffered heartbreak in crucial fifth match in the boys’ team semi-final (13-11, 13-11, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9). In the opposite half of the draw Feng Yi-Hsin meets Truls Möregard in their first ever encounter in a world ranking event.
Place for one qualifier
One qualifier through to the boys’ singles semi-finals; it was the same scenario for the girls; Kim Un Song kept mind, body and soul together to reserve her last four place.
Impressive, in the opening round she accounted for Amy Wang of the United States, the no.2 seed (11-2, 11-3, 11-6, 10-12, 11-4), before overcoming Italy’s Jamila Laurenti, the no.11 seed, by the very narrowest of decisions (11-9, 9-11, 11-4, 7-11, 6-11, 11-7, 15-13).
A quarter-final place reserved, the good form continued. In an almost equally hard fought contest but less dramatic, she ended the hopes of China’s Kuai Man, the no.14 seed (11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5).
More quarter-final problems for China
Defeat for Kuai Man, just as in the boys’ singles event, only one Chinese player remains in the last four; that of Wu Yangchen, the top seed. Notably, she did not play in the team event.
She progressed courtesy of success against players who had been required to compete in the qualification event. She accounted for DPR Korea’s Pyon Song Gyong (11-6, 11-6, 11-4, 11-4), before ousting Japan’s Kyoka Idesawa (6-11, 11-4, 11-6, 16-18, 11-8, 11-5) and Crystal Wang of the United States to keep her medal hopes alive.
Impressively, in the opening round Crystal Wang had beaten India’s Swastika Ghosh, the no.5 seed (8-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6, 11-4); Kyoka Idesawa had ousted Russia’s Elizabet Abraamian, the no.15 seed (11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6).
Success for Japan
Only one place for China; for Japan it is double the number. The no.4 seed, crowned Asian junior champion in Ulanbaator in the first week of September, Miyu Nagasaki overcame Chinese Taipei’s Lee Wan-Hsuan (11-6, 8-11, 11-2, 7-11, 11-6, 15-13), before accounting for Hong Kong’s Fung Wai Chu (11-7, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9) and China’s Chen Yi, the no.8 seed (14-16, 11-13, 11-4, 11-7, 3-11, 11-8, 11-6) to secure her last four place.
Progress as expected; for Haruna Ojio, only 14 years old, the progress was contrary to expectations. Furthermore, like Miyu Nagasaki and Kim Un Song, she caused China quarter-final pain. The no.13 seed, after overcoming Rachel Sung of the United States (9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8) and Chinese Taipei’s Yu Hsiu-Ting, the no.3 seed (11-4, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6), she ousted Shi Xunyao, the no.6 seed, the player crowned World Junior champion in 2016 in Cape Town. Notably Haruna Ojio won in straight games (11-9, 11-5, 13-11, 12-10).
An all Japanese final? It is possible. In the penultimate round Miyu Nagasaki meets Wu Yanchen, Haruna Ojio confronts Kim Un Song.
Disappointment for Xu Yingbin and Shi Xunyao but there was consolation. Together, they beat colleagues Liu Yebo and Wu Yangchen (11-5, 11-7, 11-5) to book their place in the mixed doubles final where they meet Japan’s Yukiya Uda and Miyuu Kihara, the penultimate round winners in opposition to Xiang Peng and Kuai Man (9-11, 11-9, 13-11, 5-11, 11-5).
Meanwhile, Xu Yingbin in partnership with Liu Yebo progressed to the semi-final stage of the boys’ doubles event, as in the girls’ doubles did Shi Xunyao alongside Kuai Man.
Xu Yingbin and Liu Yebo recorded a quarter-final success against Russia’s Maksim Grebnev and Lev Katsman, the top seeds and runners up one year ago in Bendigo (8-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-4); they now meet Singapore’s Josh Chua Shao Han and Pang Yew En Koen, the round of last eight winners when facing Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin and Tai Ming-Wei (11-13, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5).
Progress for China in the top half of the draw, it is the same in the lower half. Xiang Peng and Zeng Beixun secured their last four place courtesy of success in opposition to Poland’s Maciej Kubik and Samuel Kulczycki (9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 12-10). They now face Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko and Artem Tikhonov, the quarter-final winners in opposition to Frenchmen Lilian Bardet and Vincent Picard, a contest that could not have been closer, every game decided by the minimum two point margin (10-12, 12-10, 12-10, 11-13, 12-10).
Top seeds fall
Meanwhile in the girls’ doubles, Kuai Man and Shi Xunyao overcame the United States combination of Amy Wang and Crystal Wang (11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5) to reserve their semi-final place. They meet Poland’s Anna Wegrzyn and Katarzyna Wegrzyn, the quarter-final winners in opposition to Hong Kong’s Chau Wing Sze and Lee Ka Yee (7-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-7, 11-3).
A semi-final place for Kuai Man and Shi Xunyao but not for their colleagues, Chen Yi and Wu Yangchen; the top seeds, they suffered a shock last eight defeat at the hands of the French duo formed by Camille Lutz and Prithika Pavade, the no.11 seeds (9-11, 6-11, 15-13, 16-14, 11-8).
Victory from the precipice of defeat in the third and fourth games; Camille Lutz and Prithika Pavade now meet the redoubtable Japanese duo of Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki in the semi-finals. They secured their last four place by beating DPR Korea’s Kim Kum Yong and Pyon Song Gyong (11-6, 5-11, 11-3, 11-9).
Play in Korat concludes on Sunday 1st December.