by Ian Marshall, Editor
Three 2019 ITTF World Tour titles to their credit, just one defeat all year when in the final in Busan losing to Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem; Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen, the no.3 seeds, accounted for Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito, the no.4 seeds, to seal the title.
Success but the title was hard earned, Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to secure victory (9-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-9). Defeat for Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito but they could take solace in the fact that they have only been a doubles pair on the international since early July.
Further disappointment for Mima Ito
Disappointment for Mima Ito, later in the day, there was to be a further reverse; at the semi-final stage of the women’s singles event, the no.2 seed, she was beaten by Chen Meng, the no.3 seed (10-12, 11-8, 11-5, 13-11, 12-10).
Awaiting in the final is Chinese colleague, Wang Manyu, the no.3 seed, she recorded a semi-final success in opposition to colleague Wang Yidi, the no.8 seed (11-9, 11-3, 11-8, 11-3), making her Grand Finals debut.
Second seed in form
Defeat for the second seed in the women’s singles, there were no such travails for the no.2 seed in the men’s singles event.
Fan Zhendong, after accounting for Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the no.8 seed (12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9) and thus reversing the result of one year ago in Incheon, beat colleague Lin Gaoyuan, the no.3 seed (11-7, 11-13, 11-3, 11-3, 9-11, 11-3) to reserve his place in the final.
Conversely for the top seed, it was farewell and the end of a possible hat-trick. Xu Xin who appears in tomorrow’s men’s doubles final partnering Fan Zhendong, was beaten by Ma Long, the no.4 seed (11-7, 16-14, 11-7, 4-11, 4-11, 11-6). One round earlier, Ma Long had ended the hopes of compatriot, Liang Jingkun, the no.7 seed (9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8).
Proceedings in Zhengzhou conclude on Sunday 15th December, the day on which the finals of the men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles and women’s doubles will be played.
- Fan Zhendong has won the men’s singles title once; in 2017 in Astana he beat Dimitrij Ovtcharov
- Ma Long has appeared in more men’s singles finals that any other player; Zhengzhou is his seventh appearance
- Only once has Ma Long lost in the men’s singles final; at 2013 Grand Finals he was beaten by Xu Xin
- Ma Long has twice beaten Fan Zhendong in the men’s singles final, in 2015 in Lisbon, in 2016 in Doha
- Chen Meng seeks to match the record of Liu Shiwen who won the women’s singles title on three consecutive occasions starting in London in 2011; Chen Meng won in 2017 in Astana, in 2018 in Incheon
- It is the fourth time Chen Meng has reached the women’s singles final; she was the runner up in 2015 in Lisbon
- It is the first time Wang Manyu has reached a final of any description
- In the men’s doubles, it is the first time Chinese Taipei Liao Cheng-Ting and Lin Yun-Ju or Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, either together or apart, have reached the final
- In the women’s doubles it is the first time Japan’s Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki or Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun either together or apart, have reached a final in any event
- It is the first time Japan’s Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki have ever competed in the Grand Finals