by Simon Daish
Ma Long and Mattias Falck renew their rivalry
Two players who last met face to face in one of the sport’s biggest title contests, Chinese Ma Long and Sweden’s Mattias Falck announced their rivalry in the Championships men’s singles final of the world 2019.
A year later and the two were again, this time on a different, but equally glamorous stage with a semi-final berth on the line in the 2020 ITTF Finals. Ma and Falck hosted another one. thrilling spectacle for the spectators and, as was the case during their previous meeting, it was the former of the two that prevailed (11-5, 7-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9, 13-11).
Korean star Jang Woojin in the form of his career
Last week’s Dishang 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup surprise package with his fourth place finish in Weihai, Jang Woojin of the Republic of Korea has now backed that up with another guaranteed top four spot in Zhengzhou.
Putting his name among the headlines on Day 1 with his incredible 4-3 victory over Japanese teen sensation Tomokazu Harimoto, Jang survived another seven-game thriller on day two with the No.14 seed representing the lead. Chinese Series No. 5 Lin Gaoyuan (11-7, 10-12, 1-11, 11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6). No hurdle for third place on the program, Jang will leave Zhengzhou with a medal to his credit!
Courageous performance sees Mima Ito through
The two bronze medalists last year, when Zhengzhou also hosted the 2019 ITTF Finals, Japan’s Mima Ito and China’s Wang Yidi were drawn to meet in the singles quarter-finals. this year’s women’s, which means one of them would win back-to-back medals, while the other would miss.
As the competition approached, Wang held the psychological advantage over Ito after beating second seed Japan in three of their previous four meetings. However, Ito showed a lot of courage and determination to put her doubts behind her, coming out of their fifth head-to-head with a 4-3 victory (6-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-4, 11- 7, 7-11, 11-5).
Sun Yingsha shows her maturity
At only 20 years old, it is sometimes easy to forget how far Sun Yingsha has already come in his career. Today Sun combined his youthful exuberance with a flathead to seal his ticket to the final four of the draw.
Meeting a delicate client in Suh Hyowon – the Korean player who knocked out 2014 champion Kasumi Ishikawa in the round of 16 – Sun also had her fair share of problems against the defender, but kept her cool to fight from behind on her way towards victory (10-12, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3, 13-11, 11-5).
“I didn’t play much against Suh Hyowon, the last time was in 2019 and it was not an easy game. I watched her play against Ishikawa yesterday and she seemed well suited to the playing conditions and in good shape. Playing a defender was a waste of energy for both of us so it was just trying to push every point, even if it was played until game seven, all I could do was keep playing . Today she played closer to the table and was more aggressive than before. The change in style put some pressure on me. Sun Yingsha
The European and Pan-American challenge ends
There will be no European or Pan American players involved in the final two days of action after remaining prospects from both regions say goodbye.
In addition to the elimination of Mattias Falck at Ma Long, European dreams were dashed as Germans Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Petrissa Solja tasted defeat to Lin Yun-Ju from Chinese Taipei (8-11, 11-3 , 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 12-10) and Chinese Chen Meng (9-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6) respectively.
From a Pan American perspective, Adriana Diaz’s debut in the ITTF final lasted just one game with the young Puerto Rican talent losing to Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching (9-11, 11 -4, 12-10, 11-5, 13-11). Meanwhile, “The Thrill from Brazil” Hugo Calderano didn’t have enough to topple defending champion Fan Zhendong on this occasion, dropping to seed in five games (11-6, 13-11, 11-7 , 9-11, 11-9).