by Kabir Nagpal
So, after that exhilarating week of ITTF World Tour Hong Kong Open action, are you ready to take the toughest decision yet?
Who receives your vote for best performance in the Hong Kong Open? Here are the nominees:
Men’s Singles Final: Kazuhiro Yoshimura vs Cho Seungmin (2018)
Korea Republic’s Cho Seungmin had a 2018 ITTF World Tour Hong Kong Open to remember. He played five matches in the under 21 men’s singles, his only loss being in the final to Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju (11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9).
In the senior men’s singles, Cho played seven matches before running into a magnificent performance by Japan’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura. Inicidentally, Cho had come through one of the toughest draws as a qualifier, after seeing off the likes of France’s Quentin Robinot (11-6, 11-2, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4) , England’s Liam Pitchford (11-6, 11-2, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4), Germany’s Bastian Steger (7-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-4), compatriot Jang Woojin (13-11, 11-9, 14-12, 9-11, 11-9) and China’s Zhou Qihao ( 11-9,3-11, 11-4, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9).
In the final against Kazuhiro Yoshimura, Cho was pushed to his limits, a splendid barrage of attacking shots that made it very hard for the Korean to play his game. Eventually, he lost 4-1 (11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-7) to a Japanese who defied expectations and performed at the very best of his game.
Women’s Singles Round One: Lee Eunhye vs Kasumi Ishikawa (2018)
The year 2018 was certainly a year full of top performances in Hong Kong. Notably we saw Korea Republic’s Lee Eunhye beat top seed Kasumi Ishikawa in the opening round of the women’s singles event – in four straight games (11-6, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6)!
“This is our first encounter and she’s such a good player, so I had to fight for each and every point in the match. Today I think I won because of my mentality, just fighting throughout the match against. I played the qualifications to be here; it was only her first match, so I think that’s why I was able to adapt faster in the match.” Lee Eunhye
Such a massive upset only spurred her forward. She went on to beat China’s Chen Ke (10-12, 12-10, 19-17, 12-10, 6-11, 11-7), before eventually losing to another Japanese in Mima Ito (12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9).
Men’s Singles Quarter-final: Zhou Yu vs Timo Boll (2019)
Two left-handers met in the guise of Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.4 seed and Chinese qualifier Zhou Yu. Having never met previously, status and experience was on the side of Boll but Zhou was a young man with a point to prove.
Causing the upset of the day at the time, Zhou beat Boll in an entertaining battle that resulted in a 4-3 win (11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-6). Trailing by a two games deficit, Boll claimed three consecutive games to move to within one game from a the semi-final spot. However, Zhou continued to show great fighting spirit, winning back-to-back games to topple the legend.
Women’s Singles Final: Wang Yidi vs Mima Ito (2019)
In what was truly a final of the modern era, the Hong Kong crown was the prize in question when Mima Ito and Wang Yidi proved how intense is the Japan-China rivalry!
A qualifier, Wang Yidi, had reached the final following one impressive performance after the next. Meanwhile, Ito, the second seed at the 2019 event was touted for victory. However, in a complete role-reversal, Wang beat Ito comprehensively 4-0 (11-3, 11-7, 11-5, 11-6).
Thus Wang secured her first ever ITTF World Tour women’s singles title, at the same place where she won the 2018 Under 21 women’s singles event.