by Ian Marshall, Editor
Jun Mizutani, the no.13 seed, brought the day to a conclusion. He beat Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, the no.6 seed, in a dramatic seven games contest decided by the very narrowest of margins (10-12, 6-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7, 12-10).
Notably it was the second time in the day when Jun Mizutani had prevailed against Lin Yun-Ju.
Earlier partnering colleague, Mima Ito, at the semi-final of the mixed doubles, the no.4 seeds, they had ousted Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching, the no.2 seeds (11-2, 11-8, 11-7). China’s Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen, the top seeds, await. They reserved their place in the title decider courtesy of success in opposition to Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja, the no.8 seeds (11-5, 10-12, 11-2, 9-11, 11-5).
An enthralling final awaits, on their most recent meeting last December in Chengdu in the gold medal contest at the Agricultural Bank of China 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen recovered from a two games to nil deficit to emerge successful by the very narrowest of decisions (9-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-9). I wonder will we be witnessing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games final?
Equally, in the women’s doubles, the Land of the Rising Sun shone brightly.
Kasumi Ishikawa and Miu Hirano, the no.6 seeds, after beating Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tzu, the no.2 seeds (11-2, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6), ousted the formidable combination of Ding Ning and Sun Yingsha, the no.3 seeds (10-12, 11-8, 11-8, 12-10) to reserve their place in the final. They meet a further Chinese pair in the guise of Chen Meng and Wang Manyu, the top seeds.
In the penultimate round, Chen Meng and Wang Manyu ended the hopes of Germany’s Nina Mittelham and Petrissa Solja (11-4, 7-11, 15-13, 11-4).
Successes contrary to status, for Mima Ito it was as anticipated. The no.4 seed, the 19 year old recorded a five games win against colleague and qualifier, Honoka Hashimoto (11-6, 11-9, 11-3, 9-11, 11-9). Ding Ning, the no.7 seeds, who received a second round walk-over when due to face Hina Hayata, like Mima Ito from Japan, now awaits.
In the same half of the draw Sun Yingsha, the no.2 seed, plays Wang Manyu, the no.6 seed.
Impressively in the second round both halted Japanese progress. Sun Yingsha overcame Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.10 seed (11-5, 11-3, 14-12, 12-10); Wang Manyu ended the hopes of qualifier, Saki Shibata (10-12, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8).
Applaudable performances from Chinese players; it was the same in the top half of the draw. Chen Meng, the top seed, beat colleague Qian Tianyi (11-6, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8), Wang Yidi, like Qian Tianyi required to qualify, overcame colleague, He Zhuojia, the no.13 seed (12-10, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5).
Similarly, Zhu Yuling, the no.5 seed, ousted the host nation’s Petrissa Solja, the no.16 seed (11-9, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5); Liu Shiwen, the no.3 seed, ended any aspirations harboured by compatriot Zhang Rui (9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-9, 11-6), a player had also been required to compete in the qualification tournament.
Top four progress
Meanwhile, in the men’s singles event, in the second round the top four names Chinese names, the respective top four seeds, emerged successful.
Xu Xin beat Japan’s Mizuki Oikawa (11-3, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7), Fan Zhendong overcame Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.9 seed (11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-9). In a similar vein, Ma Long, the no.3 seed, beat colleague Xu Chenhao, a qualifier (7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5); in a rather closer contest, Lin Gaoyuan defeated Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.11 seed (11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 10-12, 18-16, 11-8).
Worthy performances, it was the same from Zhao Zihao, he beat the host nation’s Benedikt Duda, likewise a qualifier (7-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 11-8, 11-8).
Keeping hopes alive
Defeat for Germany but there was success, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.10 seed, kept the supporters’ spirits high; he accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan by the minimal two point margin in the decider (8-11, 14-12, 16-18, 11-9, 3-11, 11-6, 12-10).
A quarter-final place for Dimitrij Ovtcharov not only meant he was the only German, remaining in the tournament, also the only European; earlier Frenchman Simon Gauzy had lost the Korea Republic’s Cho Seungmin (14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-5).
In the round of the last eight Xu Xin meets Zhao Zihao, Jun Mizutani faces Lin Gaoyuan; in the opposite half of the draw it is Ma Long versus Cho Seungmin, Dimitrij Ovtcharov in opposition to Fan Zhendong.
Colleagues upset colleagues
Progress for Korea Republic, it was the same in the men’s doubles; Cho Daeseong and Jang Woojin, required to qualify, beat colleagues Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu, the top seeds (11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 11-3) to reach the final.
They meet Lin Gaoyuan and Ma Long, the no.2 seeds, in the title decider. In the penultimate round Lin Gaoyuan and Ma Long halted the advance of the combination formed by Poland’s Jakub Dyjas and Cédric Nuytinck (11-9, 12-10, 6-11, 6-11, 11-6).
On Saturday 1st February, the quarter-finals of the men’s singles and women’s singles events in addition the men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles finals will be played.