FRIDAY 12TH DECEMBER
Titles Decides, Asuka Machi and Chen Szu-Yu Crowned Champions
The second day of action at the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, Friday 12th December, reflected another day of intensity.
It was a day when the first titles were decided.
Japan’s Asuka Machi won the Under 21 Men’s Singles event beating Korea’s Jang Woojin to claim the top prize; the win being very much a repeat of one day earlier. In the group phase Asuka Machi had beaten Jang Woojin in four straight games.
Earlier, at the semi-final stage Asuka Machi had overcome colleague and top seed Asuka Sakai, whilst Jang Woojin had ended Brazilian dreams by beating Hugo Calderano.
However, the drama came in the Under 21 Women’s Singles final; after overcoming Japan’s Mima Ito in the semi-finals, Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu saved four match points against Miyu Maeda, also from Japan, to secure the title in a seven games classic.
Following the conclusion of the Under 21 events, attention turned to the Men’s and Women’s Singles competitions.
Feng Tianwei and Kasumi Ishikawa, the respective top two seeds in the Women’s Singles event, both negotiated the opening hurdle without experiencing great moments of drama. Feng Tianwei accounted for the host nation’s Nanthana Komwong; Kasumi Ishikawa overcame colleague Yuka Ishigaki.
However, for the next in line there were defeats; Germany’s Han Ying, the no.3 seed, was beaten by a much improved Yu Mengyu of Singapore, Shan Xiaona, also from Germany suffered at the hands of Portugal’s Yu Fu.
Likewise Sweden’s Li Fen, the no.5 seed, experience defeat at the hands of Japan’s Sayaka Hirano; Austria Liu Jia, the no.6 seed was beaten by Korea’s Seo Hyowon; whilst Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.7 seed, departed at the hands of Hungary’s Georgina Pota.
Defeats for five leading names and there was almost defeat for one more; Ai Fukuhara, the no.8 seed, almost came to grief; she needed the full seven games to beat Japanese colleague, Misaki Morizono, eventually succeeding by the minimal two point margin in the decider.
A brave effort from Misaki Morizono, it was the same from younger brother Masataka; in the first round of the Men’s Singles event, he established a three games to nil lead against compatriot, Jun Mizutani, the top seed, eventually losing in seven games as experience told.
Success for Jun Mizutani and of the top eight seeds in the Men’s Singles event, only one stumbled; England’s Paul Drinkhall, the no.4 seed, was beaten by Hong Kong’s Tang Peng.
Otherwise, it was success as status predicted.
Japan’s Koki Niwa beat Korea’s Cho Eonrae, Portugal’s Marcos Freitas overcame Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting; whilst Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus defeated Japan’s Kohei Sambe and Germany’s Steffen Mengel ended the aspirations of the host nation by overcoming Max Poungsri.
Success for one German and at last success for another; Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.2 seed, playing in his seventh Grand Finals at last won a match. He beat Japan’s Yuto Muramatsu.
A place in the last eight booked; the third day of play will see the semi-finalists decided and two more events will come have champions anointed.
The winners of the Men’s and Women’s Doubles events will be known; another day of tension, excitement and no doubt surprises awaits.