Finals- 30th Table Tennis ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup 2017
2017 ITTF-ATTU ASIAN CUP
Sunday 17th September
Lin Gaoyuan lays ghost to rest, now a winner
Electric speed, golden hands; Lin Gaoyuan won the Men’s title at the 2017 ATTU-ITTF Asian Cup in Ahmedabad, India on the early evening of Sunday 17th September.
At the final hurdle, the no.7 seed, he beat Fan Zhendong, the top seed to arrest the precious title and laid more than one ghost to rest.
He won in six games (11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5) in his first appearance in the tournament, for Fan Zhendong it was third appearance in an Asian Cup final, the third time the runner up. In 2014 in Wuxi and one year later in Jaipur he had been the silver medallist.
It was a most apt outcome; it reversed the decision of five years earlier when also in India, in the final of the Boys’ Singles event at the Volkswagen 2012 World Junior Championships in Hyderabad on Sunday 16th December he had suffered defeat.
He had been beaten by Fan Zhendong by a similar margin to which in Ahmedabad he gained success. He had lost in six games (10-12, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4).
Furthermore, he lays to rest that Lin Gaoyuan is the nearly man; in 2012 it was the third consecutive year that he had lost in a World Junior Championships Boys’ Singles final. He had been the runner up in 2010 in Bratislava and in 2011 in Bahrain.
Equally if there is some divine guardian of sport, was it not justice that he won? Earlier in the year at the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, he led colleague Xu Xin 10-6 in the seventh game. Xu Xin performed one of his trademark recoveries to emerge victorious; at 10-7 winning the point with an edge ball, the contact no thicker than a coat of paint!
A successful conclusion to the tournament for China and in most unusual circumstances; when has it ever happened that players who have lost their opening matches in a major tournament have progressed contest the final and when have the two players who finished in third places in their respective initial phase groups, contested the bronze medal match?
On the opening day of play, Fan Zhendong was beaten Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the 9 seed (13-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8); Lin Gaoyuan by Jun Mizutani, the no.3 seed (9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-9).
Chen Chien-An finished in third place in the group, the same as Korea’s Lee Sangsu, the no.5 seed; eventually the two met in the bronze medal match. The verdict went in favour of Lee Sangsu; he beat Chen Chien-An in five games (11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-3, 12-10).
Meanwhile for Jun Mizutani it was fifth place. He beat Korea’s Jeong Sangeun in the play-off contest (11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9); Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.9 seed, secured seventh position by beating Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.4 seed (8-11, 4-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 12-10, 11-8).
Notably Chuang Chih-Yuan trailed 2-6 in the fourth game, it looked as though he had thrown in the towel; he risked everything in gay abandon. He won the game and then saved one match point in the sixth game before claiming victory.
Lin Gaoyuan, Fan Zhendong and Lee Sangsu are now eligible to receive invitations for the Liebherr 2017 Men’s World Cup to be staged in the Belgian city of Liège from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd October.
However, the acceptance of Fan Zhendong is in doubt; his appearance is pending on ongoing ITTF disciplinary investigation.
Zhu Yuling wins in Ahmedabad
Bronze medallist two years ago when the tournament was last staged in India, on that occasion held in the city of Jaipur, two years later in the city of Ahmedabad for Zhu Yuling it was gold.
In an all Chinese final, on Sunday 17th September, the top seed, she beat Liu Shiwen, the no.2 seed, thrilling contest to arrest the precious title.
Zhu Yuling won in seven games (6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-13, 11-6), a contest in which we wondered if she had missed the chance; in the sixth game she held one match point, it was saved. Eventually, Liu Shiwen prevailed and surely the momentum was in her favour.
It was to prove the reverse; Zhu Yuling made the better start in the deciding seventh game, at the change of ends she led 5-3, she never let the advantage slip as, the crowd gasped in admiration at the sheer speed of the rallies.
“Both of us performed well today. It was difficult to adjust to the speed of her play but I managed to adapt and find a good tempo. Winning the Asian Cup demonstrates that I have made some progress recently and reached a new level.” Zhu Yuling
Runners up spot for Liu Shiwen, it was the same as two years earlier in Jaipur when beaten in the final by Singapore’s Feng Tianwei.
Overall, it was the seventh time for Liu Shiwen that she had appeared in an Asian Cup final. In 2010 and 2012 she won on home soil in Guangzhou, in 2013 in Hong Kong and last year in Dubai. Additional to 2015 in Jaipur she was also the runner up in 2009 in Hangzhou. Meanwhile, for Zhu Yuling it was her very first such appearance.
Success for Zhu Yuling came after an all Japanese bronze medal match witnessed success for Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.3 seed, in opposition to Miu Hirano, the no.4 seed. In a contest as hard fought as the final itself, Kasumi Ishikawa recovered from a two games to nil deficit to emerge successful (9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8).
“I will give myself 70 out of 100 for the performance in this tournament. I did well in the group stage. Though lost to Liu Shiwen in the semi-final, I was still satisfied with my performance yesterday. My goal was to reach the final, but I did not make it. I will try again and do my best in the World Cup!” Kasumi Ishikawa
Third place for Kasumi Ishikawa ahead of Miu Hirano; Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, Korea’s Seo Hyowon, Doo Hoi Kem and Cheng I-Ching complete the top eight names.
In the play-off for fifth and sixth positions, Chen Szu-Yu, the no.12 seed, beat Korea’s Suh Hyowon, the no.8 seed (11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6); earlier, also in the morning session of play Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.6 seed, had accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching (15-13, 10-12, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6) to claim seventh place.
Zhu Yuling, Liu Shiwen and Kasumi Ishikawa now qualify to receive invitations to attend the Uncle Pop Women’s World Cup to be staged in Markham, Toronto from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th October.