Fourth Stumbles as Asian Junior Champion Graduates to Senior Status
Korea’s 18 year old Kim Min Seok, impressive at the Volkswagen World Junior Championships in December 2009 and on the ITTF Pro Tour in February and March this year, was the man to cause the first upset of note at the Evergrande Real Estate Asia Cup in Guangzhou on Friday 26th March 2010.
Exploiting his full range of skills and displaying his now trademark control over a table tennis ball, the reigning Asian Junior champion beat Singapore’s more experienced Gao Ning by the very narrowest of margins in closely fought seven games duel in their open round encounter.
Both are right handed, both are attacking players but there is a difference.
Gao Ning, the winner of the Men’s Singles title at the Commonwealth Championships in the Scottish city of Glasgow just under one year ago, is safe, sound reliable; he does not produce the unexpected.
If you can beat Gao Ning you have moved another step up the ladder, if you can beat Gao Ning then you are supplying the evidence that you can challenge the best.
In Guangzhou, Kim Min Seok supplied that evidence and if given time to play, then even though still a teenager, he is a match for most. Kim Min Seok has that little bit extra, a certain “je ne sais quoi”, or whatever that is in Korean; where I come from in terms of broad Yorkshire, it’s called talent.
Kim Min Seok was the one rising star to succeed in the opening exchanges in the Men’s Singles event but others threatened.
Japan’s 15 year old Koki Niwa, totally impassive and relaxed extolled his undoubted skills to great effect to cause China’s Xu Xin problems; Xu Xin won but he needed six games to overcome his junior adversary.
Equally, Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan, another player who never shows outrageous emotion and concentrates solely on the task in hand underlined his progress.
He extracted one game from Korea’s dynamic Seo Hyun Deok and only lost two of the four by the minimal two point margin.
Similarly, Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the 2008 World Junior champion, extracted on game from India’s powerful Sharath Kamal Achanta; promising performances from rising stars and from one of China’s rising stars there was also a successful start.
Zhang Jike beat Chinese Taipei’s Wu Chih-Chi whilst from the more experienced brigade China’s top seeded Ma Lin overcame Japan’s Kasuhiro Chan in five games; no surprise but in the one remaining match there was somewhat of an upset.
Singapore’s Yang Zi, currently standing at no.59 on the ITTF Men’s World Ranking list was beaten by Hong Kong’s Tse Ka Chun, presently at no.275.