Suzhou – China, August 26, 2012: European hopes faded on the penultimate day of play, Saturday 25th August, at the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Harmony China Open in Suzhou. Germany’s Dimitrij OVTCHAROV and Vladimir SAMSONOV of Belarus both suffered quarter-final defeats at the hands of host nation adversaries. Dimitrij OVTCHAROV, the no.5 seed, was beaten by XU Xin, the no.1 seed (11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-2, 11-3); whilst the progress of Vladimir SAMSONOV, the no.7 seed, was ended by HAO Shuai, the no.9 seed (11-4, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6).
The previous day, Germany’s Timo BOLL had also experienced defeat at the hands of HAO Shuai; he was beaten in seven games (11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 5-11, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10). Europe’s top three men had all departed before the semi-final stage, which with MA Lin, the no.2 seed, beating Japan’s Asuka MACHI (11-8, 11-4, 11-2, 5-11, 11-9) and WANG Liqin, the no.4 seed, ousting Chinese Taipei’s CHEN Chien-An (11-9, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7), means the semi-final line-up comprises only Chinese players.
Furthermore, none of the four Chinese stars had gained selection for recent Olympic Games where with ZHANG Jike, WANG Hao and MA Long on duty, China had swept the board. The only semblance of success for Europe came in the Women’s Singles quarter-finals in the guise of Spain’s SHEN Yanfei; however, that success must be tempered by the fact that SHEN Yanfei learned her skills in China, before moving to Spain in search of international play. Seeded no.4, she accounted for the host nation’s LI Xiaodan (11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 10-12, 6-11, 11-9).
Success for Europe but for the one further remaining European representative it was defeat. Poland’s Natalia PARTYKA, who had negotiated two days of qualification matches, was beaten by China’s FAN Ying, the no.3 seed (11-3, 11-3, 4-11, 11-6, 12-10).
Nevertheless it was the best performance of the 23 year old Polish star’s career on Tour; she now focuses her attention on the London 2012 Paralympic Games where she defends her Women’s Singles Class 10 title.
Results as seeding predicted and it was the same scenario in the two remaining quarter-finals of the Women’s Singles event, which were all-Chinese affairs. LIU Shiwen, the no.1 seed, beat ZHU Yuling, the no.6 seed (11-9, 12-10, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9) and CHEN Meng, the no.7 seed, defeated qualifier ZHAO Yan (8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-5). Similarly, in the doubles’ semi-finals China was totally dominant.
In the Men’s Doubles event CHEN Qi and MA Lin, the top seeds, beat Korea’s JUNG Youngsik and YOON Jaeyoung, the no.7 seeds (2-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7), with WANG Liqin and XU Xin, the no.2 seeds, accounting for KIM Minseok and SEO Hyundeok, also from Korea and the no.4 seeds (11-8, 17-15, 11-8, 11-7).
An all-Chinese Men’s Doubles final, it is the same for the women. In the penultimate round CHEN Meng and ZHU Yuling, the no.5 seeds, beat Chinese Taipei’s CHENG I-Ching and HUANG Yi-Hua, the no.1 seeds (11-6, 11-6, 11-6, 12-10), with the opposite half of the draw seeing LI Xiaodan and ZHAO Yan win the all-Chinese battle against LIU Shiwen and FAN Ying (12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-1). The result was somewhat of an upset. LIU Shiwen and FAN Ying were the no.3 seeds; LI Xiaodan and ZHAO Yan occupied the no.6 seeded berth.
Meanwhile, in the two events which concluded on the penultimate day of play, Chinese Taipei’s CHEN Chien-An won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title beating Japan’s Maharu YOSHIMURA in the final (11-8, 11-5, 12-10, 11-9); whilst in the Under 21 Women’s Singles final an all-Korean affair saw YANG Haeun succeed. She beat JEON Jihee (11-8, 11-2, 10-12, 11-8, 12-14, 11-6); in both contests it was a duel between the top two seeds, with the top seed succeeding. —- ITTF/Photo: Fan Shen