China’s team pairing Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan recovered from their shock group match defeats on day one of the International Table Tennis Federation’s Asian Cup to earn places in tomorrow’s men’s singles final at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium in Japan.
World number one Fan, beaten in his second match by 14-year-old home player Tomokazu Harimoto, had recovered to win his final group match and reach today’s quarter-finals.
After defeating Japan’s Koki Niwa 9-11, 11-4, 11-3, 12-10, 11-3, Fan then moved to within one step of claiming a first Asian Cup win by beating South Korea’s Lee Sangsu 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4.
Lin, who lost his second match to Lee, also resumed the winning path and came through his quarter-final against Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting 11-6, 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6.
His semi-final opponent was South Korea’s Jeong Sangeun, who had ended the rising home hopes for Harimoto by defeating his teenaged opponent 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8.
An 11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 16-14 win over the South Korean ensured that, after all the drama, tomorrow’s final will be contested by the two top seeded Chinese players.
It was the same story in the women’s singles, where the Cup will be contested tomorrow by China’s top seed Chen Meng and defending champion Zhu Yuling.
Chen ended Japan’s involvement in the event as she earned an 11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5, 11-9 win over Kasumi Ishikawa, the only woman other than Zhu in this year's competition who has previously been a medallist at the Asian Cup, having taken bronze last year, in 2013 and, incredibly, as a 14-year-old in 2007.
Chen had beaten Chinese Taipei’s Chen Sau-Yu in a tight quarter-final, 11-8, 10-12, 11-2, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3.
Zhu’s route to the final was a quarter-final win over Japan’s Miu Hirano – 11-4, 11-13, 11-5, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5 – and a semi-final defeat of Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Cheng by 11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 5-11, 11-6.