12 Dec 2019

Three events, three first round wins; on Thursday 12th December Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju was the name to note at the Agricultural Bank of China 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Zhengzhou.

Moreover, the success was gained on his first appearance in the prestigious end of year tournament, a major surprise; quite the opposite, in recent months we have become accustomed to the young man toppling the elite of the sport. The unexpected is now the expected.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Partnering colleague Cheng I-Ching, the no.2 seeds, the duo accounted for Hungary’s Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel, the no.8 seeds (11-7, 11-3, 11-4), prior to some two hours later, joining forces with Liao Cheng-Ting, to cause somewhat of men’s doubles stir.

The no.7 seeds, the pair ousted the top seeded Korea Republic combination of Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu (11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-1).

Immense skill

A dream start but it is the skill of Lin Yun-Ju of which most of humanity can only dream that makes him special. Playing over the table I would suggest there is no better player in the world; it is difficult to think of anyone with his sublime skill.

In a doubles combination he is the architect, his retun of service, playing near the net, he is the match of anyone. China’s Xu Xin, like Lin Yun-Ju left handed, is rated by many the best doubles player in the world; the pen-hold grip being regarded as invaluable, considered in many quarters the better grip when playing near the net.

Lin Yun-Ju lays that theory to rest; using the shake-hands grip he is supreme in the near the net, over the table, department. In fact give him a frying pan and he’d return service with aplomb!

Repeat win

Doubles success, a rest, then three hours later, the third win; in the opening round of the men’s singles event, the no.6 seed, he beat Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the no.13 seed (11-7, 11-9, 13-11, 11-9). Thus he repeated the success of late March when he had overcame Mattias Falck in six games (11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8) in the men’s singles final at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Oman Open.

It was a result that was to spark a quite incredible run of success; now with the benefit of hindsight his second round loss by the very narrowest of margins to the Greek defender, Panagiotis Gionis at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest, we now consider somewhat of a blip in his schedule.

At the time the result did not raise eyebrows; never in living memory has there been a player from Chinese Taipei with the defensive style of Panagiotis Gionis. The loss was understandable and there would be more to follow.


Not so, this is where Lin Yun-Ju has excelled, he belongs to the genre of talented left handers with golden hands, Denmark’s Michael Maze and China’s Chen Qi come to mind but in terms of consistent results does he not outshine those two talented individuals?

Remember, Lin Yun-Ju is only 18 years old; this year on the ITTF World Tour he was the runner up in June in Japan, the winner in August in the Czech Republic.

Also, he has proved himself against the might of China, like Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, Xu Xin remains the nemesis. He beat Ma Long at the T2 Diamond in July in Johor Bahru and more recently at the Chengdu Airlines 2019 Men’s World Cup, where he also ended the progress of Lin Gaoyuan.

Additionally in Johor Bahru he overcame Fan Zhendong to secure the title.

Twice in same year

Wins over Ma Long twice in the same year in international tournament by a player not a member of the Chinese National Team; in my view he is the first to complete the achievement!

The nearest is Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus; on the ITTF World Tour in consecutive years in 2005 he beat Ma Long three times in succession. He won in the final in Germany, before in 2006 and 2007 succeeding respectively in the third round and semi-final in Croatia.

In 2007 when Ma Long lost in the penultimate round in Croatia he was 18 years old; the same now as Lin Yun-Jun. One wonders what riches await.

World Tour Grand Finals 2019 Grand Finals Lin Yun -Ju

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Day 4 - Agricultural Bank of China 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals