by Ian Marshall, Editor
Required to qualify, can Qian Tianyi, one month after her 20th birthday, she celebrated the occasion on Thursday 23rd January, make her presence felt?
She enjoyed a highly successful junior career, most notably in 2018 winning the junior girls’ singles title at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships and then later in the same year gaining the same accolade at the World Junior Championships.
However that fact is no guarantee for senior success; note the name of Gu Yuting, also from China and on the entry list for the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open, she won the women’s singles title at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, before in 2013 in Rabat being crowned World junior champion.
Later in 2017 she was the runner up in Austria, the same year as pertinently she reached the penultimate round in Qatar. Did we not expect since the success in Rabat, at least one ITTF World Tour women’s singles title for the now 25 year old?
Conversely, colleague Ding Ning crowned World Junior champion in 2005 in Rabat and Chen Meng in 2011 in Manama have progressed to greater heights; could this year in Doha provide a springboard for Qian Tianyi?
The later months of last year suggest she might just be on the right track. In July she was listed at a lowly no.295 on the women’s world rankings, now in February she appears at no.24; the highest listing of her career, a rise of over 270 places in seven months! No current player can match that progress.
Equally the manner in which she finished last year and started this year endorses the right track theory.
In November, at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum bet-at-home.com Austrian Open, she reached the semi-final round, losing to Japan’s Mima Ito.
Note the players she beat; required to qualify she accounted for Liu Shiwen, before ending the hopes of Austria’s Sofia Polcanova and Hina Hayata, like Mima Ito from Japan.
Tested Chen Meng
The performance meant that she gained a place in the Agricultural Bank of China 2020 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Zhengzhou; she drew the short straw. In the opening round she was beaten Chen Meng but she extended her colleague the full seven games distance, coming within an ace of ousting the champion elect in the fifth game (11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 12-14, 13-11, 11-8, 11-6).
We all remember the fact that Chen Meng won the title for the third consecutive year but we forget she was perilously close to an opening round exit!
Furthermore, consider the manner in which Qian Tianyi has started this year; again required to compete in the preliminary stage, in the opening round of the women’s singles event at the 2020 ITTF World Tour German Open in Magdeburg, she beat Miu Hirano, before once again losing to Chen Meng.
In a period of three months, Qian Tianyi has proved she is match for the very best; the next question is can she this year win an ITTF World Tour women’s singles title?
She is a left hander, can Qian Tianyi follow in the footsteps of three colleagues who are also left handed and won in Qatar? Can she emulate Wang Nan, Guo Yue and Ding Ning?
Moreover, all became world champions; a goal for Qian Tianyi.