Lion 32nd ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup Yokohama 2019
Friday 5th – Sunday 7th April
Daunting performances, a message to the rest of the world for the forthcoming Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest; on the evening of Saturday 6th April, China’s Fan Zhendong and Ma Long reserved their places in the men’s final at the Lion 32nd ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup Yokohama 2019.
Both ended the progress of the host nation; Fan Zhendong, the top seed, beat Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.2 seed (6-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9, 11-4), Ma Long, the no.6 seed, accounted for Koki Niwa, the no.4 seed (11-5, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6).
Success means that Fan Zhendong progresses to the final for the third consecutive year; in 2017 he was beaten by colleague Lin Gaoyuan in the title decider in Ahmedabad before reversing the decision last year in Yokohama.
Moreover, it means he becomes only the second player to reach three consecutive men’s finals; the only other is Xu Xin who was the runner up in 2011 in Changsha before winning in 2012 in Guangzhou and again in 2013 in Hong Kong.
A third consecutive Asian Cup final for Fan Zhendong, for Ma Long it is a fourth as he returns to the international scene; the one salutary fact being that on each occasion he emerged victorious, he won in 2008 in Sapporo, the following year in Hangzhou, before succeeding in 2011 in Changsha and in 2014 in Wuhan.
A top three finish and a place in the ITTF Men’s World Cup to be staged later in the year in Chengdu beckons; no doubt it will also beckon for the players who contest fifth to eighth positions. In the play-off matches for those places there were upsets. Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, the no.9 seed, beat Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu, the no.3 seed (6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7); India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the no.10 seed, accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.7 seed (12-10, 10-12, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8).
The third place match follows the positional contests and is scheduled for 1.45 pm on Sunday 7th April, it will be followed by the gold medal contest at 4.00 pm (all local times).