Olympic Champions Ma & Ding Shocked Out of Asian ChampionshipsPhoto: ITTF
Reigning World & Rio 2016 Olympic Champions DING Ning & MA Long were both shocked out of the Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships in Wuxi yesterday 14 April 2017. MA, who has been dominating the international table tennis scene since he won the 2015 World Championships, fell in the hands of Korea Republic’s JEONG Sangeun 1-3 (9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 6-11).
After winning the match that shocked the local spectators who had came to cheer for the Chinese captain, JEONG stated “Today I’m fortunate to have some lucky scores, after I won the first game I think Ma Long is a bit nervous. And then 2-0, this time my mental status has been calm and stable. The last game I lost a little bit but I came back.”
MA reflected “We had a very tight match during our last encounter as well. I lost the first game when I had the initial lead. After losing that game, I wasn’t handling the situation well, especially in a best of 5 games situation.”
“Actually in the fourth game, I started well with a 3-0 lead, but then I was penalised for a fault service and that did affected me afterwards. Jeong Sangeun was playing very aggressive and well. On the other hand, I made many errors and that gave him more chance.”
Grand Slam Champion DING was stunned by newly crowned Women’s World Cup Champion Miu HIRANO, who turned 17 on the fateful day.
After losing the first two games, the Japanese teenager was eager not to let anyone ruin her celebration plans on her birthday. HIRANO eventually staged her comeback to win the next three games to advance to the semifinals of the Women’s Singles contest for Gold (3-11, 12-14, 11-9, 16-14, 12-10).
“It’s a very memorable birthday for me today. Competing with such a high level player like Ding Ning, especially while, 0-2 down and 5-9 behind in the third game, I feel I had to give my best fight and wasn’t thinking too much at that point,” shared HIRANO who could hardly contain her excitement after her victory.
“Initially my goal was just to try and win this match against Ding Ning, but now that I have done that, I hope to aim for the Gold medal, and I hope my good form will continue into the World Championships!”
The Chinese team’s spirits were not dampened, as they claimed one more Gold to its Gold collection, with CHEN Xingtong & ZHOU Yu claiming the Mixed Doubles title on homeland to conclude the day.
The pair faced Japanese duo Mima ITO & Masataka MORIZONO, who had knocked out their teammates FANG Bo & WANG Manyu just the day earlier, in an epic mixed doubles showdown in front of a capacity crowd.
With the local spectators cheering for them, CHEN & ZHOU quickly raced to a 2-0 lead. Determined for the title, ITO & MORIZONO fought their way back into the game, forcing the match into a fourth game. The Japanese were however unable to repeat their feat, and it was the Chinese who prevailed to take the match 3-1 (11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8) for their title.
“I think we came into the match with a good mindset because table tennis is firstly a combination of good skills and mindset. Although we have not paired for long, we have trust in each other,” shared ZHOU after the award ceremony.
“Yesterday when Ito and Morizono were competing with Fang Bo & Wang Manyu, we were observing at the side. They are very aggressive in their play, so we have to find problems and solutions in terms of tactics and strategies. They are a very strong and determined pair, no matter how much we are leading, their desire to come back remains strong, just like in their match against Fang Bo & Zhou Yu.”
The Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships continues tomorrow with 4 more Gold medals for the individual events up for grabs, Women’s Singles & Men’s Doubles on 15 April, and the Men’s Singles as well as the Women’s Doubles final on 16 April 2017.