China takes centre-stage at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hong Kong Open
China lifted four trophies on a thoroughly dominant final day of action by the nation's athletes at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour, Hong Kong Open. LIN Gaoyuan celebrated the Men's Singles title and WANG Yidi won Women's Singles gold after the partnerships of CHEN Ke & MU Zi and LIN Gaoyuan & LIANG Jingkun tasted success in the Women's and Men's Doubles respectively.
Their victories meant that four of the five trophies available went the way of China after Chinese Taipei duo LIN Yun-Ju and CHENG I-Ching had wrapped up the Mixed Doubles title on Saturday for the second successive week following their China Open triumph.
China won both Singles titles on Sunday at the expense of Japan's leading lights, Tomokazu HARIMOTO and Mima ITO, thus dashing their rivals' very real hopes of claiming silverware at an event where all of Japan's top players were taking part. On the contrary, many of China's biggest names were rested in view of next week's ITTF World Tour Platinum, Japan Open.
One obvious exception though was LIN Gaoyuan, nicknamed 'The Dark Knight'. The top seed in Hong Kong and world no.2 held his nerve to beat 2nd seed HARIMOTO, coming from 2-1 down to secure victory over six games (11-3, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7).
The result meant that LIN avenged his defeat to 15-year-old HARIMOTO in the final of the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon, Korea Republic, whilst taking his tally of ITTF World Tour titles to three in his career and two in 2019 alone following victory in January's Hungarian Open.
In the Women's Singles competition, Japanese expectations of glory were understandably even higher, with 2nd seed ITO the favourite to defeat qualifier WANG Yidi in Sunday's final.
However, the Chinese representative, ranked 46th in the world, played nothing like the so-called underdog, as she brushed aside world no.7 ITO in four routine games (11-3, 11-7, 11-5, 11-6).
The result completed a disappointing week for Japan's star women's players, as top seed Kasumi ISHIKAWA was sent crashing out in the round of 16 by the very same WANG Yidi, who also recorded a straight games victory over 3rd seed CHENG I-Ching (TPE) in the semi-final.
Few could argue that WANG's gold medal in Hong Kong – her very first Women's Singles title on the ITTF World Tour – was not richly deserved.
Success for China extended to the Women's and Men's Doubles competitions, despite their inferior rankings in both finals. Seeded 7th in Hong Kong, CHEN Ke and MU Zi (CHN) came from behind to beat 4th seeds JEON Jihee and YOO Eunchong (KOR) and thus claim their very first trophy as a pair (9-11, 11-1, 11-4, 11-5).
Having faced one another in Saturday's Men's Singles semi-final (a 4-1 victory for LIN Gaoyuan), the duo of LIN and LIANG Jingkun (CHN) linked up on Sunday in the Men's Doubles final. The 5th seeds were also forced to stage a comeback in their victory over JANG Woojin and LIM Jonghoon (KOR) after the 3rd seeds claimed the first game before their Chinese counterparts won the next three (6-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-8) to secure their first gold medal success as a pair on the ITTF World Tour.
The Mixed Doubles title went the way of Chinese Taipei duo LIN Yun-Ju and CHENG I-Ching, who made light work of LEE Sangsu and CHOI Hyojoo (KOR) with an emphatic straight games victory (11-8, 11-3, 11-7) on Saturday. Champions at this month's China and Hong Kong Opens, the pair will now be aiming for their third success at consecutive events at next week's Japan Open