by Simon Daish
We can’t compile a list of the day’s standout players without including Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin, who ensured a top four finish on his Men’s World Cup debut! The no.12 seed started the day in style, successfully fighting back from 1-3 down to beat Japan’s Koki Niwa 4-3 (11-13, 11-4, 12-14, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10) and followed up with victory over fellow Korean Jeoung Youngsik (15-13, 11-9, 2-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6).
“It is my first time playing at the World Cup, it’s a big competition! The only regret I have is that the fans are unable to cheer for us during the competition.” Jang Woojin
Yes that’s right, two Koreans make our list of star performers with Jeoung Youngsik also stepping into the spotlight. In addition to his brave quarter-finals outing against his fellow compatriot, Jeoung made headlines earlier in the day with his outstanding 4-2 win over Brazilian icon Hugo Calderano, seeded fourth, in the Round of 16 (11-8, 14-16, 11-9, 10-12, 11-2, 11-7).
Next up we have Mattias Falck, who also caused a stir in the morning session as the Swede edged a gruelling seven-game contest against 2016 Men’s World Cup bronze medallist Wong Chun Ting (8-11, 11-7, 14-12, 10-12, 11-6, 11-13, 17-15). Fresh from his dramatic encounter with the Hong Kong China player, Falck also produced a fine effort in the quarter-finals as he pushed last year’s runner up Tomokazu Harimoto hard, even in defeat (11-9, 11-8, 11-9, 4-11, 11-9).
“I expected a tough match – the last time we played a 4-3 match, that also came down to the last two points. I was leading in the sixth game, the margins were small but I tried to focus on my own game so that I could come out strong in the seventh and believe in myself. Wong is one of the few pen-holders left and it is always hard playing against this kind of opponent.” Mattias Falck
The defending champion, Fan Zhendong was indeed expected by many heading into the event to be in the hunt to keep possession of the trophy for another year, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be applauded for successfully negotiating his opening two fixtures in Weihai. Simply devastating against Chuang Chih-Yuan (11-5, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6), Fan sent another Chinese Taipei competitor packing soon after as he condemned Lin Yun-Ju to defeat for the second year running (12-10, 9-11, 11-2, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5).
And then there were four
Down to the final four players in Weihai. First up on Day 3, Japanese teenage ace Tomokazu Harimoto does battle with China’s Ma Long before another Chinese superstar in Fan Zhendong takes to the table in opposition to Korea’s Jang Woojin.
For more information check out the schedule for Sunday’s proceedings: