February 1, 2020
German Open Update
(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
Sixteen of the worlds top 18 players competed this week in the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open. Xu Xin, Fan Zhendong, Ma Long, and Lin Gaoyuan (the top four players in the World) were the top four seeds in Magdeburg, Germany. The preliminary competition was fierce – with the top 16 qualifiers emerging to the main draw to play the seeded players.
The top seeded qualifier, Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong, fell to Denmark’s Zhai Yujia early. Wong was not alone, as other recognizable names that fell early included Joao Monteiro, Robert Gardos, Samuel Walker, Jon Persson, Panagiotis Gionis, Zhou Yu, Stefan Fegerl, Tiago Apolonia, Yan An, Vladimir Samsonov, Thiago Monteiro, Vitor Ishiy, Anton Kallberg, Gustavo Tsuboi, Fang Bo, Zhou Qihao, Marcos Freitas, Daniel Habesohn, and Ovidiu Ionescu.
The best American story of the event was Kanak Jha who won three matches to advance. Jha defeated Austria’s Maciej Kolodziejczyk 4-1, China’s Zhou Qihao 4-3, and Japan’s Yukiya Uda 4-3. Of the qualifiers, only Jha and Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna were not from Asia or Europe.
Kanak Jha fell 4-2 to Koki Niwa (World No. 12). Most of the other matches in the Main Draw went to the higher seeds as well. The Quarterfinals are set for Saturday, with Xu Xin faced off against Zhao Zihao, Jun Mizutani set to play Lin Gaoyuan, Ma Long set to play Seungmin Cho of Korea, and Dimitrij Ovtcharov set to play Fan Zhendong. Of the final 8, only Seungmin Cho and Dimitrij Ovtcharov are surprises, and both players have had success on the international stage in the past. Ovtcharov has been the World’s No. 1 and is trying to recapture his form. Seungmin is a 21-year-old Korean player who is currently ranked No. 113 in the world, but who has reached at least the top 32 in each of his last four tour events. The next round will be played on Saturday with the finals scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Other Americans playing in Germany this week included Kai Zhang who defeated Thiago Monteiro and then fell to Vitor Ishiy in Men’s Singles, Amy Wang who won two matches before falling to Hina Hayata of Japan, Lily Zhang who won one match before falling to Chaina’s Qian Tianyi, Jennifer Wu who won one match before falling to Singapore’s Zeng Jian, and Crystal Wang who fell to Britt Eerland. Three American women fell one match short, losing in the last qualifier – none advanced to the knockout rounds.
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