Lausanne, August 18, 2013: The GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour, Harmony Open, successfully concluded after 5 days of exciting competition in Suzhou, China on 18 August 2013.
The top Chinese players did not disappoint the very supportive local crowd at the event in Suzhou, which drew more than 23,000 spectators in total, as they swept the gold medals in all events except the Under 21 Boys’ and Girls’ Singles which was won by a Japanese brother and sister for the first time in the tour’s history.
However, the men’s singles did not go fully to script with Chinese powerhouses world number three WANG Hao and world number ten YAN An falling in the second round to the Japanese duo Kenta MATSUDAIRA and Koki NIWA respectively.
This was where the surprises stopped, as the final was contested between the world number one and two men’s players MA Long and XU Xin, to the delight of a packed crowd. MA Long eventually overcame XU Xin in a pulsating match 4-1 (11-8,11-7,11-2,11-13,11-6).
The 24-year-old MA Long said after winning his 16th ITTF World Tour Title: “I felt that I had been very lucky in this event, winning it 3 times already. Interestingly, they were all in odd numbered years! Both XU Xin and I practiced very hard for this event, but we had to save some energy for the upcoming Chinese National Games.”
The Women’s Singles was a repeat of the 2012 Harmony Open final, which saw Chinese CHEN Meng successfully defended her title against teammate LIU Shiwen. However, it was a shoulder injury that forced LIU to end the duel prematurely at 1-1, thus handing the victory to CHEN.
After the match, the 22-year-old world number three LIU commented: “I find it a pity that I didn’t manage to complete my match today. I really would like to put on a good show today in front of the Suzhou crowds, but my shoulder injury was really unbearable and I couldn’t continue.”
Gold medalist CHEN acknowledged her teammate’s injury, and gave LIU some encouraging words: “Such injuries are common for players, so I can understand that it is difficult to bear. I hope LIU Shiwen can get well soon, and we can all work hard together for the upcoming Chinese National Games.”
In the Men’s Doubles finals, Chinese duo MA Long / XU Xin who contested the men’s singles final faced Koki NIWA / Kenta MATSUDAIRA of Japan, who had defeated the newly crowned 2013 Men’s Doubles world champions, CHUANG Chih-yuan / CHEN Chien-an of Chinese Taipei, en route to the finals. The Chinese duo and 2011 Men’s Doubles world champions proved too strong for the young Japanese pair, as they sailed to a 3-1 victory, adding one more gold medal for MA Long.
While in the Women’s Doubles, it was also the second medal of the event for CHEN Meng, who paired up with teammate ZHU Yuling, as they defeated KIM Hye Song / KIM Jong of the DPR Korea 3-1.
Brother and sister, Masataka MORIZONO and Misaki MORIZONO of Japan won the respective Under 21 Boys’ and Girls’ Singles titles on Saturday 17th August, creating their own niche in the history of table tennis. This marks the first time that two singles titles have been won by siblings in the 18-year history of the ITTF World Tour.
The next stop on the GAC Group ITTF World Tour is the Czech Open in Olomouc, Czech Republic, on21-25 August 2013. —- ITTF/ Photo by ITTF / Fan Shen
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