Ahmedabad: Fan Zhendong joined compatriot Lin Gaoyuan in the men singles final of the of the ITTF-ATTU 30th Asian Cup at the TransStadia here today. Lin first accounted for Taipei’s Chen Chien-An 4-0 and Fan steamrolled Korea’s Lee Sangsu, also by the same margin.
Just before that, top-seeded Liu Shiwen and No. 3 Zhu Yuling ensured that the women singles crown will remain with the Chinese when they entered the final, beating their Japanese rivals.
The men singles semi-finals failed to raise the din as it did in the women matches, especially the one between Liu Shiwen and Kasumi Ishikawa.
Fan and Lin are not the ones to waste time. Focused as they were, they didn’t relax the grip at any point of time during the semis. Fast and furious were their dictum and unable to cope with the pressure their Taipei and Korean opponents succumbed by their accuracy and measured strokes on either flanks.
On their way to the women final, Liu struggled against Kasumi Ishikawa of Japan before winning 15-13, 11-3, 9-11, 13-11, 9-11, 11-6 and Zhu just packed off the other Japanese Miu Hirano packing in straight games to win 13-11, 11-8, 11-2, 12-10, to make an all-China affair.
Unlike Miu, who had to play three matches on the day, including the playoff challenge round first up, Kausmi had a lot of steam left in her to challenge the supremacy of Liu. In fact, it started off with the first game where Liu won on the third game point. The struggle continued from the third game but the seasoned Chinese put an end to the ordeal in the sixth to grab the final slot.
Just before that Zhu ensured that her entry was not prolonged, knowing well the capabilities of the 17-year-old Japanese. Though she won the first game on extended points, Zhu went 3-0 up very quickly. In the fourth, Miu looked like waging some battle but it was not good enough to keep her Chinese at bay.
In women singles quarterfinals, two matches stood out for tenacity and quality. In the first, No. 2 seed Miu Hirano, who had a play her first match in the challenge round, was visibly tired against Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu as the 11th seed played exceptionally well to lead 3-2. However, the 17-year-old Japanese turned it around by keeping her opponent engaged with long rallies and tiring out. That was when she went all out and making clever use of flanks beat the stuffing out of Chen to take the next two games.
But what surprised everyone was the way Korean Suh Hyowon stretched top-seed and title favourite Liu Shiwen. The Korean played with the patience of the Chinese and, to a large extent, succeeded in her mission. With her defensive skills coming to the fore, the Korean made things difficult for Liu. Making a lot of unforced errors, she hit the net going for the flat drives.
So much so, the players took every alternative game and despite her 3-2 lead Liu was unable to stop her opponent at that. However, in the decider she called the shots and emerged the deserving winner.
Both Zhu Yuling and Kasumi Ishikawa quickly disposed of their quarterfinal opponents, Cheng I-Ching and Doo Hoi Ken, respectively, with an identical 4-0 wins.
The men singles quarterfinals, too, went the same way with Lin Gaoyuan and Fan Zhendogn quickly fixing Korean Sangeun Jeong and Japanese Jun Mizutani with 4-1 triumphs. But the other Korean, Lee Sangsu, had to fight till the end to oust Taipei’s Chaung Chih-Yuan.
In the gripping encounter, the fifth seeded Korean led comfortably at 3-1 but the determined sixth seed from Taipei took the battle from there to euqalise, often using his down-the-line backhands to surprise his opponent. However, it was the Korean’s day as he progressed winning the decider with minimal points.
Taipei’s Chen upped the ante in the fifth game to win it 13-11 and replicated it in the next to topple the fourth seed Japanese. Before that, Koki Niwa fought well to first level the score after Chen went 2-1 up.
Earlier in the day, Manika Batra could not sustain the pace and guile of Miu Hirano and went down 1-3 (7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 6-11) in 20 minutes flat to end the Indian challenge .
Coach Massimo Costantini seemed satisfied with the progress of Manika when he said: “We knew the result, but I must say I am impressed with the way she fought against Hirano.”
In the second match, Su Hyowon of Korea accounted for Lee Ho Ching of Hong Kong 3-1 to enter the main draw.
Semi-finals: Zhu Yuling (CHN) bt Miu Hirano (JPN) 13-11, 11-8, 11-2, 12-10; Liu Shiwen (CHN) bt Kasumi Ishikawa (JPN) 15-13, 11-3, 9-11, 13-11, 9-11, 11-6.
Quarter-finals: Zhu Yuling bt Cheng I-Ching (TPE) 11-5, 11-3, 11-2, 11-3; Miu Hirano bt Chen Szu-Yu (TPE) 11-13, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-3; Kasumi Ishikawa bt Doo Hoi Ken (HKG) 11-9, 12-10, 14-12, 14-12; Liu Shiwen bt Suh Hyowon (KOR) 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-3.
Playoff Challenge: Miu Hirano (JPN) bt Manika Batra (IND) 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6; Su Hyowon (KOR) bt Lee Ho Ching (HKG) 11-9, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9.
Semi-finals: Lin Gaoyuan (CHN) bt Chen Chien-An (TPE) 11-5, 12-10, 15-13, 11-7; Fan Zhendong (CHN) bt Lee Sangsu (KOR) 11-5, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7.
Quarter-finals: Chen Chien-An bt Koki Niwa (JPN) 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 13-11, 13-11; Lin Gaoyuan bt Sangeun Jeong (KOR) 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5; Fan Zhendong bt Jin Mizutani (JPN) 11-8, 11-13, 16-14, 11-5, 11-8; Lee Sangsu bt Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE) 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9.
Playoff Challenge: Lee Sangsu bt Noshad Alamiyan (IRI) 11-4, 10-12, 11-13, 11-2, 12-10; Chen Chien-An bt Nima Alamian (IRI) 11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 11-7.