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Recap-Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open


Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open

Sunday 17th February


The final day in Lisbon, titles for Liang Jingkun and Hina Hayata

China’s Liang Jingkun and Japan’s Hina Hayata won the respective men’s singles and women’s singles titles at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open in Lisbon on Sunday 17th February.

The successes came after China had claimed the first two titles to be decided on the concluding day of play; Fan Siqi and Yang Huijing secured women’s doubles gold, they were followed by Cao Wen and Xu Yingbin who reserved the top step of the men’s doubles podium.

It was a day when new names were added to the roll of honour

Qualifiers, China’s Fan Siqi and Yang Huijing beat Hungary’s Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel, the no.4 seeds, in the women’s doubles final (8-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-2).

Immediately following, four teenagers were on duty in the men’s doubles final, both pairs having been required to qualify; China’s Cao Wei and Xu Yingbin beat Japan’s Shunsuke Togami and Yukiya Uda to claim the title (5-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7).

It was for both Chinese combinations, male and female, their first ever doubles success as partnerships on either the ITTF World Tour or at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament.

Meanwhile, Hina Hayata, who the previous day had caused a major upset in the third round of the women’s singles event by beating China’s Liu Shiwen, the top seed (9-11, 12-10, 14-12, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8) maintained her outstanding form secure the top step of the podium. Furthermore, she underlined the fact she is most adept against defensive players. The no.11 seed, at the semi-final stage she beat China’s Hu Limei (10-12, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6), before overcoming colleague Honoka Hashimoto, the no.6 seed (9-11, 8-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-3, 8-11, 11-8) to claim gold.

It was for Hina Hayata, her third appearance in an open international tournament women’s singles final. On the ITTF World Tour in 2014 she was the runner up in Chile, in 2016 the winner in Australia; later on the ITTF Challenge Series in 2017 she succeeded in Spain.

Conversely, once again at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament Honoko Hashimoto was the bridesmaid. It was the fifth time in six women’s singles finals when she had finished in runners up spot. In 2017, she had been beaten in the final in Thailand and Belarus; in 2018 she won in Croatia but in both Belgium and Poland she had to settle for the silver medal.

Meanwhile, bringing matters to a conclusion; the no.3 seed, Liang Jingkun won the men’s singles title beating Chinese colleague, Lin Gaoyuan, the top seed, in the final (6-11, 12-10, 14-11, 11-7, 11-6). However, Liang Jingkun very nearly did not reach the men’s singles final. In the penultimate round he had to recover from a three games to one deficit against 17 year old compatriot, Liu Yebo. He emerged victorious by the minimal two point margin (10-12, 10-12, 11-8, 10-12, 11-2, 11-7, 11-9) in the decider.

In the counterpart men’s singles semi-final, Lin Gaoyuan had beaten Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.4 seed (11-7, 11-13, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7).

Notably, it was for Liang Jingkun, his second career men’s singles title at an open international tournament; his one prior success being three months ago on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour in Austria. For Lin Gaoyuan, it was a third such appearance, a first defeat in the title decider; on the ITTF World Tour he had won in Austria in 2017, earlier this year he had prevailed in Hungary.