Crowned ITTF World Tour Grand Finals champion for a third consecutive year just one month earlier, World no.1 Chen Meng carried her excellent form into the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open and didn’t disappoint. Edging out Korean defender Suh Hyowon at the start of the women’s singles contest, Chen added victories over fellow compatriots Qian Tianyi, Wang Yidi and Zhu Yuling to the list. A crushing show of strength against Ding Ning in the final guided Chen to her 14th singles title on the ITTF World Tour.
Winning three of his four encounters at the 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament, Dimitrije Levajac was one of the standout players in Gondomar. Without a single ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series win to his name in 2019, Levajac recorded victories over Stefan Fegerl, Lam Siu Hang and Wong Chun Ting to send Serbia to Tokyo 2020!
Cheered on by an adoring home crowd in Magdeburg, Dimitrij Ovtcharov produced one of his best performances in recent times with his semi-final finish at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open. Opening his account with a convincing win over Lim Jonghoon, Dima then showed nerves of steel to beat Chuang Chih-Yuan before claiming a shock comeback victory over in-form 2019 champion Fan Zhendong!
Negotiating two potential banana skin encounters against Gu Yuting and Hina Hayata without dropping a game, Olympic champion Ding Ning went on to see off major challenges in the form of Mima Ito and Wang Manyu 4-1 and 4-2 respectively to reach the women’s singles final in Magdeburg. A bright start to the Olympic year, the Rio 2016 gold medallist will be hoping to enjoy more success in the coming months in her bid to once again make the cut for China’s Tokyo 2020 squad.
Guiding her native Hungary to a top eight finish in Gondomar, Dora Madarasz played a key role in her country’s successful outings against Croatia and Portugal. Recovering from a game down to beat Mateja Jeger in Hungary’s 3-0 in the round of 32 win, Madarasz then backed it up with a brace against the host nation’s Fu Yu and Luo Xue, displaying some of her best table tennis to date.
For Poland’s Jakub Dyjas it was his performance against Nigeria in particular that caught the eye, summoning his inner-warrior to beat African champion Quadri Aruna and Segun Toriola as Poland battled its way to victory. Dyjas was also the only player from his team to claim a win against Hong Kong China, beating Lam Siu Hang. That’s not all: Dyjas’ January got even better the next week in Magdeburg, when he accompanied Belgian Cedric Nuytinck to the men’s doubles semi-finals after eliminating Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Patrick Franziska in the previous round.
Delighting fans at the GETEC Arena with his blistering pace and out of this world winners, Xu Xin put on a fantastic show for the local spectators at the German Open. Surviving a stern test against An Jaehyun in round one, pen hold specialist Xu proved too strong for Mizuki Oikawa, Zhao Zihao and Lin Gaoyuan to reach the men’s singles final. Xu concluded his campaign with a powerful 4-0 win over Ma Long to claim the title, returning to the very summit of the men’s world rankings list as a result.
Yuan Jia Nan
A shining light for Team France, Yuan Jia Nan prevailed over many a high calibre opponent at the World Team Qualification Tournament including Russia’s Yana Noskova, Portugal’s Shao Jieni and Korea Republic’s Choi Hyojoo. Seeded 18th, France went on to finish an impressive ninth in the women’s team event.
Showing great courage and leadership in Czech Republic’s fine run in Gondomar, resulting in a ninth position finish, Pavel Sirucek contributed two wins in his country’s 3-2 beating of DPR Korea before delivering a mighty straight games victory over Indian star Sathiyan Gnanasekaran. Against Hong Kong China in the play-off for eighth position Sirucek once again showed his quality, forcing Wong Chun Ting right down to the wire in a thrilling affair.
Korea Republic qualifier Cho Seungmin produced a show-stopping display in Magdeburg, achieving his best performance on the ITTF World Tour since 2018! Toppling Olajide Omotayo, Marcos Freitas and Anders Lind in qualification, 21-year-old Cho followed up with a shock round one elimination of Chinese seventh seed Liang Jingkun! A 4-1 victory over Simon Gauzy took Cho through to the quarter-finals where he was eventually stopped by World champion Ma Long.
Who is your pick for player of the month?