23 Dec 2019

Named “Breakthrough Star” at the ITTF Star Awards ceremony in Zhengzhou, China; ten days after receiving the accolade, Lily Zhang underlined the reasons.

On Saturday 21st December, she won the women’s singles title at the United States Open staged in Forth Worth.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Notably, in the later rounds she staved off strong Asian opposition to secure the top prize and thus ended a memorable year in style.

In September in Asuncion she had won the women’s singles title at the Pan American Championships; the following month, contrary to all expectations she reached the semi-final stage at the Uncle Pop 2019 ITTF Women’s World Cup in Chengdu.

Later rounds

At the quarter-final stage in Fort Worth she beat China’s He Aige (11-9, 11-9, 13-15, 6-11, 15-13, 11-8) the under 21 women’s singles winner at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open, before ending the hopes of Japan. In the penultimate round she accounted for Takako Nagao (15-13, 11-9, 13-11, 3-11, 11-9) prior to securing the title at the expense of Mayuka Taira (8-11, 11-3, 12-10, 11-5, 11-5).

Last year when the tournament was staged in Orlando, Mayuka Taira had not enjoyed the best of fortunes; she had departed in the early rounds. One year later, she made amends; facing host nation opposition, at the quarter-final stage she beat Wang Chen (11-7, 11-6, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7), before ending the hopes of Liu Juan (12-10, 10-12, 11-9, 4-11, 11-2, 11-9), the defending champion.

Progress for Mayuka Taira, it was also progress for Lily Zhang; in 2017 she had been a quarter-finalist when the tournament was held in Las Vegas, last year she had been the runner up.

Japanese success

Disappointment for Japan but in the remaining main events contested; there was success.

After accounting for Frenchman Enzo Angles (11-9, 3-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4) and the host country’s Liu Yi (11-7, 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 5-11, 11-4), Kentaro Muchi overcame colleague Tomoya Fujimura (13-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8) to secure the men’s singles title.

Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw, in the later rounds Tomoya Fujimura had beaten Bob Chen of the United States (10-12, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6), followed by success in opposition to Poland’s Daniel Gorak (11-6, 11-9, 11-6, 12-10).

Medals of different colour

Runners up spot for Tomoya Fujimura, it was the same in the men’s doubles but not in the mixed. In all Japanese finals, in the former partnering Hiromitsu Kasahara, the duo experienced defeat at the hands of Tasei Matsushita and Kei Eto (13-11, 1-11, 11-8, 4-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-7); in the latter in harness with Mayuka Taira it was success against Hiromitsu Kasahara and Takako Nagao (11-6, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9).

Silver for Takako Nagao, it was the same in the women’s doubles; partnering You Odono, the duo experienced defeat in the final when opposing colleagues Yui Sato and Ayano Seiki (11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8).

Overall, including junior, veteran and para competitions, a total of 91 events were staged.


2019 United States Open: Roll of Honour and Results

General News Lily Zhang