2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum, bet-at-home.com Austrian Open
Sunday 17th November
Fan Zhendong and Mima Ito strike gold in Austria
Successful the previous month in Germany, Fan Zhendong made it back-to-back titles on Sunday 17th November in Linz, when at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum, bet-at-home.com Austrian Open, he won the men’s singles event.
He accounted for colleague Zhao Zihao in the final (12-10, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5).
The win for Fan Zhendong was as status advised, he commenced play the top seed; the top step of the podium reserved by Japan’s Mima Ito in the women’s singles was something of a surprise; the no.3 seed, she overcame China’s Zhu Yuling, the no.3 seed (11-5, 16-18, 11-7, 13-11, 12-10) to secure the top prize. Thus she repeated the success enjoyed on the most recent occasion when they had met, the final in the first week of November at the 2018 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open.
A 13th career ITTF World Tour men’s singles title for Fan Zhendong but it very nearly didn’t happen. At the semi-final stage he was extended the full seven games distance, being required to save three match points in the deciding game, before overcoming Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.5 seed (11-2, 4-11, 11-13, 5-11, 11-3, 11-5, 14-12).
Progress to the final as anticipated, having earlier at the quarter-final stage ended the hopes of Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, the no.8 seed (11-4, 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 11-8); in the opposite half of the draw, the advance of Zhao Zihao was not to have been anticipated. At the ITTF World Tour German Open, he had departed in the third preliminary round, losing to Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi. In Linz he extracted revenge on the South American country.
Following success against compatriot Lin Gaoyuan, the no.2 seed (5-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 12-10) and in opposition to Chinese Taipei’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.14 seed (7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6), he beat Hugo Calderano, the no.4 seed (12-10, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5), to reserve his place in the final.
Impressive from Zhao Zihao, from Mima Ito it was imposing. After recording a quarter-final success against Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.6 seed (3-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8), she accounted for the sensation of the tournament, China’s Qian Tianyi, the reigning world junior champion (11-6, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6).
Against all odds, in the opening round, the 19 year old had accounted for colleague, Liu Shiwen, the top seed and reigning world champion (8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8). Outstanding in the opening round, she maintained her form to beat the host nation’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.12 seed (10-12, 11-3, 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9) and Japan’s Hina Hayata (11-8, 17-15, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-3) to reserve her place in the semi-final.
Gold for China, it was the same in the men’s doubles but not in the women’s doubles or mixed doubles.
Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan, the no.3 seeds, secured the men’s doubles title, at the final hurdle overcoming the top seeded Korea Republic pairing of Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu (11-8, 12-10, 11-7).
A straight games margin of victory but en route to the final it had been very different. They had required the full five games to beat Frenchmen Tristan Flore and Emmanuel Lebesson in the opening round (11-9, 10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10), the same in the quarter-finals when facing Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi, the no.8 seeds (12-10, 8-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7) and yet again in the penultimate round in opposition to Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Maharu Yoshimura (11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 6-11, 11-7).
The top step of the podium for China, in the women’s doubles that position belonged to Japan as it did in the mixed doubles. In the former, Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki, the top seeds, accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tzu, the no.6 seeds (11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-4), to seal the title; in the latter Tomokazu Harimoto and Hina Hayata combined to claim gold. In the final they ended the hopes of fellow qualifiers Lin Gaoyuan and Zhu Yuling (11-5, 4-11, 11-5, 11-6).
Significantly for both Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki it was their first ITTF World Tour women’s doubles title; for Tomokazu Harimoto and Hina Hayata their first in the mixed doubles.
Attention now turns to the Grand Finals; play commences in Zhengzhou on Thursday 12th December.