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Saturday 17th June


China asserts authority

According to status, the top four names in the Men’s Singles event booked semi-final places at Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Lion Japan Open in Tokyo, following success on Saturday 17th June. However, in the Women’s Singles competition surprises continued to accrue.

The one common factor is that China is to the fore; Ma Long faces Xu Xin in the Men’s Singles penultimate round, in the opposite half of the draw Fan Zhendong confronts the host nation’s Jun Mizutani.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Similarly, in the Women’s Singles semi-finals three Chinese names appear; Sun Yingsha faces Wang Manyu, Chen Meng opposes Germany’s Han Ying.

Success but for the defending champion, Fan Zhendong, there were some moments of concern; he had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to beat Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson (9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7, 11-3), before being similarly tested by colleague Liang Jingkun (10-12, 7-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6).

A hard fought win over Liang Jingkun, who was a man in form; in the second round he had overpowered Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.5 seed (11-4, 11-5, 11-13, 11-9, 11-4).

Testing times for Fan Zhendong; there were even more exacting times for Jun Mizutani, the no.4 seed. After beating Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.15 seed, in four games (10-12, 11-7, 13-11, 11-9, 11-8), he was stretched to very limit by Korea’s Lee Sangsu, the no.12 seed (11-6, 11-9, 4-11, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10). Notably one round earlier Lee Sangsu had beaten China’s Lin Gaoyuan in four straight games (11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7).

Eventual success as status predicted; in the upper half of the draw where the second round matches had been completed the previous day, it was the same scenario. Ma Long, the top seed, beat Japan’s Koki Niwa (11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3); Xu Xin, the no.3 seed, received a walk-over against injured colleague Fang Bo, the no.7 seed.

The duel between Xu Xin and Fang Bo was a highly anticipated contest but not as anticipated the quarter-final clash in the Women’s Singles event between China’s Chen Meng, the no.2 seed and Japan’s Miu Hirano, the no.5 seed; the latter having sensationally beaten Chen Meng two months ago in Women’s Singles final at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF Asian Championships in Wuxi.

Chen Meng extracted revenge, after having overcome Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun in four games (11-13, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5), she accounted for Miu Hirano in four straight games (11-7, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7). In the second round Miu Hirano had beaten Korea’s Jeon Jihee, the no.12 seed, in a full distance seven games duel (13-15, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-7).

A semi-final place for Chen Meng was no great upset; for the other three names, it was not to be anticipated.

In the same half of the draw as Chen Meng, Germany’s Han Ying, the no.6 seed, upset the pecking order. After recording a second round win in opposition to Singapore’s Zeng Jian, the no.13 seed (11-6, 13-11, 10-12, 14-12, 11-7), she caused a surprise of note by beating Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.4 seed (11-7, 10-12, 11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7. One round earlier, Cheng I-Ching had ended the hopes of Portuguese qualifier Fu Yu (11-7, 11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7).

Unexpected victory for Germany but in the opposite half of the draw where, as in the Men’s Singles event the second round had been completed the previous day, it was unexpected defeat Shan Xiaona, the no.10 seed, was beaten by China’s Sun Yingsha (11-7, 4-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-8).

A fine performance from one Japanese teenager who been required to compete in the preceding qualification tournament, it was the same for another; Wang Manyu beat Japan’s Mima Ito, the no.8 seed (4-11, 8-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8).

Undoubtedly a successful day for China; a day that ended with more success.

Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha, not seeded, won the Women’s Doubles title Ma Long and Xu Xin, the no.2 seeds, secured gold in the counterpart Men’s Doubles event.

After having accounted for Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, the top seeds, at the semi-final stage (10-12, 11-2, 10-12, 11-8, 11-2); Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha secured the title at the final expense of Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, the no.2 seeds (10-12, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-6). In the counterpart penultimate round duel, the Korean duo had accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng I-Ching, the no.4 seeds (13-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-3).

Meanwhile, Ma Long and Xu Xin, the no.2 seeds, were in no mood for charity. After beating compatriots, qualifiers Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan in straight games in the penultimate round (11-6, 11-6, 11-9); they handed out the same severe punishment when facing Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura, the no.6 seeds (11-9, 11-3, 11-7).

In the counterpart semi-final Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura had caused somewhat of a surprise. They beat colleagues, Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima, the top seeds (11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9).

Play concludes in Tokyo on Sunday 18th June with the semi-finals and finals of both the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events. 

Review Day One: former champions beaten shock results abound

Three times the winner, more than any other player in the history of an ITTF World Tour tournament in Japan, Germany’s Timo Boll experienced a shock first round Men’s Singles exit on Friday 14th June at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Lion Japan Open in Tokyo. 

Furthermore, he was not the only illustrious name to depart, in the Women’s Singles event, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei and the host nation’s Kasumi Ishikawa, both medallists at the recent Liebherr 2017 World Championships, suffered shock defeats.

Timo Boll, the no.6 seed, experienced an opening round defeat at the hands of China’s quicksilver, 22 year old Lin Gaoyuan (11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8), a player pressing for a place in next year’s World Team Championships in Halmstad, Sweden.

Defeat at the hands of an aspiring Chinese player, it was the same for both Kasumi Ishikawa and for Feng Tianwei.

Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.3 seed, was beaten in the opening round by 18 year old Wang Manyu (6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 14-12, 11-7); a confidence boosting success, in the second round the teenager continued her good form. She overcame Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the 2015 European champion (11-7, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7), a player in form. In the opening round she had caused Singapore more heartache by beating Yu Mengyu, the no.16 seed (11-7, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5).

Meanwhile for Feng Tianwei, twice the champion, after an opening round win against Austria’s Sofia Polcanova (11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-2, 4-11, 11-5), she  suffered one round later at the hands of 16 year old Sun Yingsha (11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 12-10).

Upsets but not for China’s Chen Meng nor Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the respective second and fourth seeds; both accounted for Hong Kong adversaries in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event. Chen Meng beat Minnie Soo Wai Yam (11-7, 11-6, 12-10, 11-5), Cheng I-Ching overcame Lee Ho Ching (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4).

Chen Meng and Cheng I-Ching both appear in the lower half the draw; the second round will be completed on the following day of play.

Notable success for China, it was the same for the country’s star names in the Men’s Singles event. Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin alongside Japan’s Jun Mizutani, the respective top four seeds, all ended the day unscathed.

In the top half of the draw, Ma Long beat Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura (18-16, 11-7, 11-2, 11-2) before accounting for Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit (11-4, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7) to book his quarter-final place. Likewise, Xu Xin overcame Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson (11-5, 11-6, 12-10, 11-4) and Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira, the no.10 seed (11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-4, 12-10) to reserve his last eight berth.

Two matches for Ma Long and Xu Xin; in the lower half of the draw, the half that features Fan Zhendong and Jun Mizutani, only the first round has been completed. Impressively Fan Zhendong accounted for the host nation’s Masaki Yoshida (12-10, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9); Jun Mizutani defeated Germany’s Bastian Steger (11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 12-10).

Success for the leading Chinese players in the Men’s Singles event; it was the same in the Men’s Doubles where after the conclusion of the quarter-finals the names of the nations that will contest the final are known. Japan will oppose China.

At the semi-final stage, Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima, the top seeds, face Japanese colleagues, Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura, the no.6 seeds; Ma Long and Xu Xin, the no.2 seed, confront Asian champions and qualifiers in Tokyo, Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan.

Similarly in the Women’s Doubles event there is strong Chinese and Japanese interest. In the penultimate round Japan’s top seeded Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato meet Chinese qualifiers Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha; in the opposite half of the draw, Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, the no.2 seeds, meet Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng I-Ching, the no.7 seeds.

The semi-finals and finals of both the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles events will be played on Saturday 17th June.