ZEN-NOH 2019 ITTF Team World Cup
Sunday 10th November
China well prepared
A preparation tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; on Sunday 8th November when play concluded in the city’s Metropolitan Gymnasium at the ZEN-NOH 2019 ITTF World Team Cup; one nation was prepared more than other.
China won the men’s team title for the eight consecutive time; the women’s for the ninth.
Simply with a depth of talent that no national association on planet earth can match; just one individual match was surrendered. The one reverse came in the men’s final against the Korea Republic when by the very narrowest of margins, having won the opening two games, Liang Jingkun and Xu Xin experienced defeat at the hands of Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu (8-11, 4-11, 12-10, 11-7, 12-10).
It was not to spark a sensational win but it underlined the fact that the Korea Republic, who missed out on a medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, is very much in the hunt in Tokyo. In the third match of the engagement facing Liang Jingkun, Jeoung Youngsik established a two games to one lead and was on the precipice of victory in the third, before the 23 year Chinese budding star recovered to win in five games (11-9, 8-11, 10-12, 15-13, 11-8).
Tense moments for Liang Jingkun; not for Fan Zhendong, he proved as solid as a rock. In the second match of the fixture he beat Jang Woojin in straight games (11-8, 11-8, 11-9), before in the fourth, closing the curtain by overcoming Lee Sangsu in a similar manner (11-8, 11-4, 11-8).
Earlier in the group stage of play, with Ma Long and Lin Gaoyuan each making one appearance, a 3-0 win had been posted against Nigeria’s Bode Abiodun, Quadri Aruna and Olajide Omatayo followed by the same margin of success when facing Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chen-An, Liao Cheng-Ting and Lin Yun-Ju.
A quarter-final place reserved, a 3-0 win was recorded in opposition to the United States trio formed by Kanak Jha, Feng Yijun and Zhang Kai, before at the semi-final stage it was the same outcome when opposing Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura.
Meanwhile, for the women’s squad comprising Chen Meng, Ding Ning, Liu Shiwen, Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu; the record was unblemished. The one moment of concern was in the final against Japan when Sun Yingsha lost the first two games against Mima Ito, before in the fifth game saving three match points. She won five points in a row after trailing 7-10. Tense times, not where Liu Shiwen was concerned, she partnered Chen Meng to doubles success against Miu Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa (11-7, 11-9, 12-10), before overcoming Miu Hirano to end proceedings.
Earlier in the group stage a comprehensive win had been recorded against Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz, Reem El-Eraky and Dina Meshref, prior to first place being secured at the expense of Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko, Solomiya Brateyko and Ganna Gaponova.
Progress in style, at the quarter-final stage it was success against the United States trio comprising Amy Wang, Wu Yue and Lily Zhang, before a penultimate round win was recorded against Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, Cheng Hsien-Tzu and Cheng I-Ching.
Notably in both events the semi-finalists were the same in both events – China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea Republic – it is the first time that has happened since the tournament was first held in 1990 in Tokyo.