China are looking for a golden double in singles competition at the International Table Tennis Federation Bulgaria Open event following the conclusion of the semi-finals in Panagyurishte.
Reigning Olympic Ding Ning faces compatriot Wang Yidi in the women’s final, while the men’s will be contested by second seed Xu Xin and Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira.
Ding won a tough morning quarter-final at the Arena Asarel against Japan’s defending champion and top seed Kasumi Ishikawa, coming through 8-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7.
Ding’s compatriot Liu Gaoyang, the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist who has been absent from the international scene for a while and came through as a qualifier, won her quarter-final against Japan’s Miu Hirano 11-8, 11-9, 2-11, 11-7, 11-4.
But Liu’s progress ended when Ding beat her in the semi-final by 11-3, 11-4, 10-12, 12-10, 11-4, and in the other last-four match, Wang defeated Japan’s Hitomi Sato 7-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 12-10, 11-6.
In a men’s event where China’s Rio 2016 champion Ma Long and Germany’s top seed and defending champion Dimitrij Ovtcharov were knocked out early, Xu has had an excellent opportunity and he took advantage of it today.
He wasted little time in winning his quarter-final against Koki Niwa of Japan 11-1, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7, and then beat compatriot Ma Te with even greater ease in the semi-final, 11-9, 11-8, 11-2, 11-8.
Matsudaira earned his final place with an 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 win over fellow Japanese player Tomakazu Harimoto.