LIEBHERR 2019 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Day of firsts
The first title at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest was decided on Friday 27th April, very much a day of firsts, China’s Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen struck mixed doubles gold. Moreover, on their first appearances in the prestigious biennial tournament both China’s Liang Jingkun and Korea Republic’s An Jaehyun booked semi-final places.
Likewise, the day concluded with the combination of Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Spain’s Alvaro Robles beating Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia and JoãoMonteiro (11-6, 3-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8) to secure a place in the men’s doubles final, a contest that was a first before it even began!
It is the first time that either Portugal or Spain has won a medal a World Championships of any colourin any event; quite astounding.
Furthermore, the day started for defeat for the first lady, listed at the top of the world rankings and the defending champion, Ding Ning was beaten by colleague Liu Shiwen in a contest which witnessed a quite remarkable change of fortunes. After losing the opening two games, Liu Shiwen went from strength to strength, the performance so strong that in the fifth game Liu Shiwen did not afford Ding Ning a single point (6-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-0, 11-2).
Immediately following, Chen Meng once again displayed her liking for Budapest; in January she had won the women’s singles title at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open, at the semi-final stage she had beaten colleague Wang Manyu. At the Liebherr 2019 World Championships she repeated the feat; she beat Wang Manyu in four straight games (11-5, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8).
Impressive from Chen Meng, it was equally impressive from Ma Long who, whatever world rankings may read, he is the number one man; he beat colleague Lin Gaoyuan in four straight games (11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4).
A fine effort but Ma Long made his debut in 2007 and starting in 2009, reached three consecutive semi-finals before securing the title; he is the seasoned player; for Liang Jingkun and An Jaehyun, they were on debut. Both succeeded in full distance seven games duels and both upset the order of merit. Liang Jingkun, the no.9 seed, beat Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.8 seed (12-10, 10-12, 11-8, 11-4, 9-11, 8-11, 11-5); An Jaehyun,required to qualify, playing in his eighth match of the tournament, accounted for colleague Jang Woojin, the no.10 seed (12-10, 10-12, 7-11, 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10).
At the semi-final stage, Ma Long meets Liang Jingkun, An Jaehyun opposes Sweden’s MattiasFalck, the quarter-final winner in opposition to Simon Gauzy (11-8, 11-13, 11-6, 11-3, 11-7), the Frenchman never able to find the form that two days earlier had seen him end the hopes of Xu Xin.
An earlier than expected men’s singles exit for Xu Xin, in the mixed doubles there were such travails; partnering Liu Shiwen, the duo accounted for the defending champions Maharu Yoshimura andKasumi Ishikawa (11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4) in a contest that had an air of déjà vu. In 2015 in Suzhou, Maharu Yoshimura and Kasumi Ishikawa had also experienced defeat in the final at the hands of Xu Xin, on that occasion when partnering Korea Republic’s Yang Haeun.
Gold for Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen; in the men’s doubles, Ma Long and Wang Chuqin are very much on track, they beat colleagues Liang Jingkun andLin Gaoyuan (12-10, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5) to book their place in the final where they meet OvidiuIonescu and Alvaro Robles.
On Saturday 27th April, the men’s doubles and women’s singles finals will be played, followed by the semi-finals of the men’s singles and women’s doubles events.