by Simon Daish
Alvaro Robles and Ovidiu Ionescu stun Chinese icons
Never before had Spain’s Alvaro Robles and Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu formed a doubles partnership on the international stage, but boy did they make a great opening impression at the 2018 China Open in Shenzhen!
The mixed association pair came through their qualification match with little difficulty; they dropped just the two games across the opening two main draw rounds. Then, in dramatic fashion, Robles and Ionescu produced a stunning 3-2 semi-final win over 2011 World champions Ma Long and Xu Xin, saving a match point along the way (11-9, 11-9, 4-11, 4-11, 12-10).
Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana’s mighty comeback
Who doesn’t enjoy the excitement and spectacle of a good fightback and the China Open is no stranger to jaw-dropping recovery efforts with one breathtaking example coming in the 2008 women’s doubles final.
Trailing 0-3 and heading for a swift defeat, third seeded Hong Kong China pair Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana mounted a comeback for the ages, winning the next four games on the bounce to beat Chinese top seeds Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia in unbelievable circumstances (9-11, 7-11, 2-11, 11-7, 12-10, 13-11, 11-3).
Lim Jonghoon: qualifier to semi-finalist
There’s nothing quite like watching an odd-defying journey unfold, Lim Jonghoon’s took the biscuit in this respect at the 2018 China Open.
Unseeded and therefore required to start his campaign in qualification action, the Korean player followed up with a show-stopping round one victory over one of the biggest names associated with the sport in Xu Xin (11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6). Lim added further wins over seeded opposition in the form of Chuang Chih-Yuan (11-8, 14-12, 11-13, 11-6, 11-7) and Lee Sangsu (11-9, 11-9, 11-5, 11-6) on his way to an incredible semi-final finish.
Sun Yingsha’s silver medal China Open debut
If you want to talk about breathtaking first appearance at the China Open then Sun Yingsha is the player for you, reaching the women’s singles final on her first outing at the event in 2017.
Making headlines with her sensational title-winning ITTF World Tour debut at the 2017 Japan Open one week prior, Sun, who was just 16 years old at the time, extended her unbeaten introduction to the Tour to 11 consecutive wins. At the semi-final hurdle in Chengdu, Sun claimed a jaw-dropping victory over Liu Shiwen (13-11, 11-8, 11-6, 12-10) – not bad for a first time out in front of the home crowd!
Timo Boll stops Mr.China Open himself Wang Liqin
One man who has more than made a name for himself as a China Open legend, Wang Liqin had lifted the men’s singles trophy six times prior to the 2006 final in Guangzhou and was hot favourite to top the podium for a seventh. Add on to that the fact that he was the reigning World champion.
However, these statistics didn’t frighten the man standing opposite Wang in the men’s singles final in Guangzhou, for Germany’s Timo Boll was about to leave the home fans in a state of shock! Showing great heart and determination throughout, Boll emerged the victor (11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8) to become the first European to win the event since Zoran Primorac in 1997.