by Ian Marshall, Editor
At the conclusion of play he was the one member his national team remaining in the men’s singles event; in the second round he beat fellow qualifier, Frenchman Simon Gauzy (14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-5).
Some ninth months ago in Budapest, An Jaehyun defied the odds, at the time 19 years old he was named at no.152 on the men’s world rankings; on that list the tenth highest from Korea Republic.
The situation regards to 21 year old Cho Seungmin is not too different, presently he stands at no.113 on the men’s ranking; the sixth highest player from the Korea Republic. It is a scenario that suggests his chances of selection for the national team in the world’s big events are not rosy, especially when considered that it seems the country has an accepted first team.
Last year at the ZEN-NOH 2019 Team World Cup in Tokyo, his name did not appear on the entry list; more recently he was not amongst the squad members at the 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament in Gondomar.
In both tournaments, in every fixture, the Korea Republic stuck to the same selection, Jang Woojin, Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu; always the latter two names commenced matters playing the doubles, for Jang Woojin a potential two singles.
Moreover the selection has reaped dividends; the trio finished in runners up position in Tokyo, losing to China; in Gondomar they booked their place in the men’s team event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games without losing a single match.
Now in Magdeburg, Jang Woojin, Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu, all seeded, all experienced surprise opening round exits; the notable result being the defeat of Lee Sangsu, the no.15 seed, by Simon Gauzy (11-7, 16-14, 11-9, 7-11, 12-10).
Facing the left handed Cho Seungmin, Simon Gauzy was not able to replicate the success. On the whole Cho Seungmin controlled the match. He excelled playing over the table; the forehand top spin with heavy rotation imparted on the ball was the opening attacking stroke. Directed to the body of his adversary, it was both efficient and successful. It created opportunities and forced errors from the Frenchman.
Moreover, Cho Seungmin displayed minimal emotion, no more than a clenched fist the gesture when winning a point.
Certainly it was a very mature if not dynamic performance against Simon Gauzy; also it is not the first time that he has caught the eye, at the ITTF World Tour 2018 Hong Kong Open, he reached the semi-final stage.
The question would appear to be one of performing on a consistent basis but following proceeding in Magdeburg could that argument also be levelled at his colleagues?
Success against the odds for An Jaehyun last year in Budapest was undoubtedly a reason why he was named in the Korea Republic squad for the recent 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament.
Has Cho Seungmin done enough in Magdeburg to gain a place in the forthcoming World Team Championships on home soil in Busan?
Most pertinently in the first round he beat Liang Jingkun, the no.7 seed and like An Jaehyun bronze medallist last year in Budapest (11-7, 3-11, 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9).
Now if he can do the same in the quarter-finals surely he has more than stated his case; another Chinese player awaits, the no.3 seed, a certain Ma Long!