Japan’s Mima Ito and Korean Jang Woojin stopped a Chinese onslaught at the ITTF Finals in Zhengzhou.
Mima is the sole non-Chinese player in the women’s singles semi-final line-up while Woojin served up another magical display to foil a Chinese sweep of the men’s singles semi-final berths.
Mima edged Wang Yidi in dramatic fashion, winning 6-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5 in her women’s singles quarter-finals. The Japanese star has always struggled struggled with Wang’s aggressive approach in past head-to-heads and it was no different this time around.
She now goes on to face Wang Manyu for a place in the final. Manyu completed a resounding 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 win over Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching in her quarter-final tie.
It was much tougher for top seed and recently crowned World Cup champion Cheng Meng in her quarter-final tie against Germany’s Petrissa Solja.
Against all scripts, Solja raced to a 2-0 lead to jolt Chen Meng out of her slumber. Chen Meng, in search of a historic fourth consecutive ITTF Finals title, ramped up the pressure to earn a 9-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6 victory.
Solja had produced one of the greatest comebacks of her career when she came back from 2-8 down in the decider against the highesr ranked Feng Tainwei of Singapore in the first round. That had boosted her confidence and she came roaring form the start against a bewildered Chen Meng.
“I thought it was an exciting match expecially since in the first 2 games I lost at very tight points. I thought Solja played really well today. In the second game at 10-8, I played too conservatively in my serve and receive game. I was doing well with my serve before 10-10 but at that instance things didnt go my way.”
“At 0-2, in fact I was able to relax a little more and I was getting used to her playing rhythm. The in the first three exchange, we knew each other’s playing style after 2 games and as the rally progressed I thought I had the upper hand. In the third game i just tried to reduce my unforced error and take the initiative earlier, said Chen Meng.
She had also struggled in her first round match against Miyu Kato yesterday and will have to wary of the more dangerous teammate Sun Yingsha in the semi-finals.
Sixteenth seeded Soh Hyowon, who had packed off 2014 champion Kasumi Ishikawa in her opening tie, found her match in Yingsha in the quarter-finals. Yingsha overcame the resistance from the Korean player with an exhilarating 10-12, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3, 13-11, 11-5 quarter-final win.
“I haven’t played against Suh Hyowon a lot, the last time was in 2019 and this was not an easy match. I watch her play against Ishikawa yesterday and she seems to be well adjusted to the playing conditions and is in good form.”
“Playing a defender, it was energy draining for both of us so it was just trying to push each point, even if it was played to the 7th game, all I could do was to just keep playing.Today she played closer to the table and was more aggressive than before. The change in style and her aggressiveness did put some pressure on me,” said Yingsha.
In the men’s singles, giantkiller Jang Woojin of Korea continued his winning ways when he overcame a tough Lin Gaoyuan 11-7, 10-12, 1-11, 11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6 in his quarter-final tiw.
Woojin, who had upset Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto in the opening round, never stopped giving his all against his Chinese opponent. The victory earned him a semi-final clash against defending champion Fan Zhendong.
Zhendong was forced to bring out his best against Brazilian star Hugo Calderano. Calderano fell short at the quarter-final hurdle in Zhengzhou with Zhendong progressing in his stead.
Zhendong, who won the World Cup last weekend claimed a tight 11-6, 13-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 win over a disappointed Calderano.
“There were moments that was very uncomfortable for me especially in the 2nd, 4th and 5th game when he played to his strengths. I kept looking for solutions and it was important in the 2nd game, being able to fight back to win it,” said a relieved Zhendong.
The much anticipated rematch between 2019 World Championships men’s singles finalists Ma Long meets Sweden’s Mattias Falck lived up to all the expectations.
And it’s Ma Long who once again holds the upper hand against Mattias Falck after another thrilling encounter between the two, winning 11-5, 7-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9, 13-11.
If any game was to sum up the overall picture of the match it was surely game six with the two competitors separated by the narrowest of margins. Leading 10-7, Ma Long held three match points only for Falck to claim four points on the bounce to hold a game point in his favour at 10-11. Ma Long, The reigning World and Olympic champion , kept his cool and eventually crossed the finish line 13-11.
Ma Long, who beaten in the World Cup finals by Zhendong, will play second seeded teammate Xu Xin in the semi-finals. Ma Long, nicknamed the Dragon, has his sights set on what would be a sixth men’s singles title at the ITTF Finals.
ROUND OF 16: Cheng I-Ching (Tpe) bt Adriana Diaz (Pur) 9-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-5, 13-11; Mima Ito (Jpn) bt Doo Hoi Kem (Hkg) 13-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6
QUARTER-FINALS: Chen Meng (Chn) bt Petrissa Solja (Ger) 9-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6; Sun Yingsha (Chn) bt Suh Hyowon (Kor) 10-12, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3, 13-11, 11-5; Wang Manyu (Chn) bt Cheng I-Ching (Tpe) 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6; Mima Ito (Jpn) bt Wang Yidi (Chn) 6-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5
ROUND OF 16: Lin Yun-Ju (Tpe) bt Dimitrij Otcharov (Ger) 8-11, 11-3, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 12-10; Lin Gaoyuan (Chn) bt Koki Niwa (Jpn) 11-9, 11-3, 11-4, 11-9
Fan Zhendong (Chn) bt Hugo Calderano (Bra) 11-6, 13-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9; Ma Long (Chn) bt Mattias Falck (Swe) 11-5, 7-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9, 13-11; Xu Xin (Chn) bt Lin Yun-Ju (Tpe) 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-3; Jang Woojin (Kor) bt Lin Gaoyuan (Chn) 11-7, 10-12, 1-11, 11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6