Teen titans: China’s Wang Manyu ends Japanese phenom Ito Mima’s run at the Hong Kong Table Tennis Open
In the battle between two hugely talented teenagers, China’s 19-year-old comes out on top to reach the final against fellow mainlander Chen Xingtong
It was a battle of teen table tennis prodigies at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Hang Seng Hong Kong Open’s women’s singles semi-finals, with China’s 19-year-old Wang Manyu overcoming 17-year-old Japanese Ito Mima 4-3 at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Saturday night.
World number four Wang overcame an initially confident and ruthless Ito – ranked just one position below in fifth – after a crucial fourth set blitz to swing the momentum her way. It was clearly a sore one for Ito, who was seen crying apologetically to her coaches after her (8-11, 5-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10) loss.
“My opponent definitely played better than me in the first two games, especially with serving and placing the ball,” said Wang, who will meet Chinese counterpart and world number eight Chen Xingtong in Sunday’s final. “I was playing catch up and [Ito] did a good job of nullifying my top spin – her returns were high quality and she gave me a lot of pressure.
“I slowly got used to it by the third and fourth set and just tried to play a more attacking game and managed to control her smashes,” added Wang.
Chen put an end to fellow Chinese He Zhuojia’s magnificent Open form with a comfortable 4-1 win (6-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7). She had upset number two seed Feng Tianwei, of Singapore, and Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi-kem in the previous stages.
“Today was a narrow escape – I’ll play more freely tomorrow,” said Wang, who beat world number one Chen Meng earlier this year. “[Hong Kong] is a stage for me to express myself and perform.”
Most the top men’s seeds were upset in the earlier rounds, leaving the men’s semi-finals wide open. Zhou Qihao, of China, faces, Cho Seungmin of Korea, while fellow Korean Lim Jonghoon meets world number 10 Yoshimura Kazuhiro of Japan on Saturday evening.
Women’s doubles: Chen Xingtong/Sun Yin (China) v Chen Ke/Wang Manyu (China)
Men’s doubles: Morizono Masataka/Oshima Yuya (Japan) v Ho Kwan-kit/Wong Chun-ting (Hong Kong)
Women’s singles: Wang Manyu (China) v Chen Xingtong (China)
Men’s singles: Cho Seungmin (South Korea) v Lim Jonghoon (South Korea) or Kazuhiro Yoshimura.