Tag Archives: cheng i-ching

WTT Doha Day 2 Recap and Day 3 Preview

Not the post you were looking for? A guide to all of Edges and Nets’ coverage of WTT Doha (also known as WTT Middle East Hub and formerly known as ITTF Qatar Open) can be found here.

WTT Doha has wrapped up day two of action in the men’s and women’s singles event. We summarize the results and highlight matches to watch in Day 3.

Women’s Singles Day 2 Recap

It was a great day for Japan’s lower ranked women and a terrible day for Japan’s Olympic women’s team. as Hina Hayata upset third seed Japanese star Kasumi Ishikawa 3-2 and Miyuu Kihara upset Bernadette Szocs 3-1. Fourth seed Miu Hirano fell to Mengyu Yu deuce in the fifth.

Jeon Jihee took care of business against Maria Tailakova and is now the only top eight seed remaining on the bottom half of the draw.

Suh Hyowon’s struggles against domestic competition continues as Yang Haeun slaughtered her 3-0 to set up a quarterfinal match-up with Mima Ito.

Women’s Singles Day 3 Preview

Top seed Mima Ito and sixth seed Jeon Jihee are now the only remaining seeded players in the tournament. Their quarter-final match-ups are probably most intriguing and provide a twisted preview of a potential Korea vs Japan semi-final in the Olympic team event.

Jeon has a clear path to the finals starting with her quarterfinal against Japan’s Miyuu Kihara (who have outperformed the two lower ranked members of Japan’s Olympic team) on Day 3.

Mima Ito also has a clear path to the finals starting with her quarterfinal match against Korea’s Yang Haeun (who has also outperformed the two lower ranked member of Korea’s Olympics team).

Normally, we aren’t super interested in doubles, but Japan’s Olympic team will face off against Japan’s JV team, which has so far clearly outperformed the Olympic team, in a semi-final between Kasumi Ishikawa/Miu Hirano and Hina Hayata/Miyuu Kihara.

Men’s Singles Day 1 Recap

Calderano defeated An Jaehyun 3-1, including 5-0 runs to close out each of the final three games. A full recap is available here. He will play against former German Bundesliga teammate Simon Gauzy in the quarterfinals.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov saved several game points to win a critical third game against Emmanuel Lebesson and then cruised to a 3-1 victory in the fourth game. He will face Mattias Falck in the quarterfinals, who comfortably beat fellow Swede Kristian Karlsson 3-0 in the round of 16.

In a potential Olympic team semi-final preview, Tomokazu Harimoto dispatched of Lee Sangsu 3-1 and will then face lower ranked Korean Cho Daesong in the quarterfinals.

Lin Yun-Ju appears to be getting back into rhythm as he won comfortably against Sharath Achanta and in the quarterfinals will face off against Quadri Aruna, who eked out a 3-2 win over Joao Geraldo.

Andreas Levenko lost 3-2 to Cho Daesong in a match plagued by officiating controversy and Levenko’s poor sportsmanship. A full recap is can be found here.

Men’s Singles Day 2 Preview

The two more interesting quarter-final matchups are probably Gauzy vs Calderano, which is a potential Olympic quarter-final or round of 16 preview, and Ovtcharov vs Falck, which is also a potential Olympic round of 16 preview.

Where to watch

Matches on Table 2, 3, and 4 will be live streamed on ITTF/WTT’s Youtube Channel, although viewers in certain countries had problems watching them live on Day 1. Full match recordings are expected to be available the next day.

Table 1 will be broadcast on the official World Table Tennis website (subject to media rights restrictions). A free account registration is needed. There is live commentary, but sadly Adam Bobrow is not involved.

Since Table 1 matches are unavailable for viewing if you don’t watch it live, Edges and Nets will be live blogging and providing full recaps of certain Table 1 matches.

If you liked this article, please follow Edges and Nets on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated.

Unless stated otherwise, all images and footage in this post can respectively be found on ITTF’s Flickr page and ITTF’s Youtube Channel.

WTT Doha Day 1 Recap and Day 2 Preview

Not the post you were looking for? A guide to all of Edges and Nets’ coverage of WTT Doha (also known as WTT Middle East Hub and formerly known as ITTF Qatar Open) can be found here.

WTT Doha has wrapped up day one of action in the men’s and women’s singles event. We saw top seeds fall or come close to falling in both events.

Women’s Singles Day 1 Recap

In the women’s singles event, second seed Cheng I-Ching (WR 8) lost 3-1 to Bernadette Szocs (WR 26). Szocs just gave Kasumi Ishikawa a massive gift; since Cheng only gets four ranking points from this event, Kasumi Ishikawa will have an easier path to passing Cheng on the world rankings and taking the fourth seed at the Tokyo Olympics (after all the confusion over WTT’s draw process, the fourth seed may or may not matter greatly). However, Cheng’s current lead in the world ranking is still large enough that Ishikawa still needs to make two deep runs at WTT Doha.

Ishikawa (WR 9) herself almost suffered a first-round upset herself as she was pushed to five games by thirteenth seed Lily Zhang (WR 30). Co-patriot and top seed Mima Ito also received a first round scare, going five games to twelfth seed Britt Eerland (WR 28). Szocs, Zhang, and Eerland were three of the biggest victims of WTT’s sudden decision to only seed the top eight players, because they had to face a top-3 seed instead of a bottom 16 seed as under the previous rules. However, WTT ended up getting what it wanted in the form of three exciting round of 32 matches and one first-round major upset. Hopefully, the round of 16 remains just as exciting.

Elsewhere in the draw, Margaryta Pesotska (WR 32) upset eighth seed Adriana Diaz (WR 19), and sixth seed Feng Tianwei (WR 12) fell to Suthasini Sawettabut (WR 41). A total of three top eight seeds have thus bowed out in the first round of the women’s singles event.

Along with Cheng, the rest of Taiwan’s women’s team also bowed out early; Chen Szu-Yu (WR 25) lost to Suh Hyo-won (WR 21) 3-1, and Jeon Jihee (WR 15) took care of business against Cheng Hsien-Tzu (WR 57).

Women’s Singles Day 2 Preview

While the top seeds all faced tough competition on Day 1, the round of 16 match-ups will be slightly easier for them as they mostly face lower ranked players than in the round of 32. However, there are also plenty of interesting matches among the lower seeds.

Now that Szocs has upset Cheng I-Ching and eliminated the highest ranked player between her and the finals, she will face off against Miyuu Kahara (WR 49), who previously defeated Miu Hirano at the All Japan National championships this January.

Pesotska will continue her push to become a top 16 seed at the Tokyo Olympics (a top 16 seed earns European players auto-qualification into the Olympics) against lower ranked Shan Xiaona (WR 43).

Suh Hyowon (WR 21) will face off against co-patriot Yang Haeun (WR 81). Yang has upset 2021 Olympian and fellow Korean Choi Hyojoo in the qualification round, and she also beat Suh at the Korean Olympic Trials earlier this year. Yang will be looking to extend her good performance in Doha, while Suh gets the opportunity to redeem her abysmal performance at the Korean Olympic Trials, in which she finished near the bottom.

Men’s Singles Day 1 Recap

Liam Pitchford (WR 15) lost to Andreas Levenko (WR 144), who has now pulled off several consecutive upsets starting from the qualification draw. Pitchford suffered a minor hand injury last week that affected his performance in Day 1, but he hopes to be fully recovered by WTT Star Contender. Edges and Nets provided a full recap of the match here.

Players seeded 9-16 who had to play higher seeds did not fare as well as their female counterparts. Tomokazu Harimoto (WR 5) beat Chuang Chih-Yuan (WR 26) 3-0, Simon Gauzy (WR 20) beat Jonathan Groth (WR 30) 3-0, and Lee Sangsu (WR 22) defeated Robert Gardos (WR 24) 3-1.

Elsewhere in the draw, Lin Yun-Ju (WR 7) shared the struggles with the rest of team Taiwan (along with the women’s team and Chuang Chih-Yuan, Chen Chien-An also suffered an early exit in the qualification round) as he was pushed to five games in his first-round match against Benedikt Duda (WR 38). In a weird turn of events, Wang Yang had to default his match to Joao Geraldo due to violations of COVID restrictions.

Men’s Singles Day 2 Preview

Tomokazu Harimoto will play Lee Sangsu in a likely preview of the men’s team semi-final event at the Tokyo Olympics. Harimoto has had a difficult year so far, losing to lower ranked Japanese players both in the All Japan National Championships and the Japanese T-League. A loss to a lower ranked international rival may be an even bigger blow to his confidence.

Cho Daesong (WR 141) will face off against Levenko, and both players have to be excited that they are playing someone outside the top 100 in the round of 16. Cho is only 18, and he had a high profile win over An Jaehyun (WR 39) and pushed Jeoung Youngsik (WR 13) to seven games at the recent Korean Olympic Trials.

An Jaehyun himself also has a history of upsetting higher ranked players, and he looks to extend that history in his round of 16 match-up against Hugo Calderano.

Joao Geraldo (WR 93) gets his first match of the main draw against Quadri Aruna (WR 20). Given how all of Team Taiwan (including Lin) has struggled so far, Aruna has a great opportunity to make a run to at least the semi-finals. However, nothing is worse for a player’s performance than thinking too far ahead in the future.

Lin will also get the chance to get back into groove in his round of 16 match-up against Sharath Achanta (WR 32).

Where to watch

Matches on Table 2, 3, and 4 will be live streamed on ITTF/WTT’s Youtube Channel, although viewers in certain countries had problems watching them live on Day 1. Full match recordings are expected to be available the next day.

Table 1 will be broadcast on the official World Table Tennis website (subject to media rights restrictions). A free account registration is needed. There is live commentary, but sadly Adam Bobrow is not involved.

Since Table 1 matches are unavailable for viewing if you don’t watch it live, Edges and Nets will be live blogging and providing full recaps of certain Table 1 matches. For Day 2, we will be covering An Jaehyun vs Hugo Calderano at 13:00 Greenwich time. Check back our website for more. We were not able to do any live recaps of Day 1 due to issues viewing the live Youtube stream, but expect things to go better this time around.

If you liked this article, please follow Edges and Nets on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated.

Unless stated otherwise, all images and footage in this post can respectively be found on ITTF’s Flickr page and ITTF’s Youtube Channel.

WTT Doha 2021 Preview Part 5: Cheng I-Ching and Liu Shiwen

Liu Shiwen 2019 WTTC

This post is the fifth post in a series of posts previewing the 2021 World Table Tennis (WTT) Middle East Hub (also known as the Qatar Open or WTT Doha) coming March 3-13. Our previous post covered seeds 5 through 8 in the men’s singles event: Jeong Youngsik, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Jang Woojin, and Mattias Falck. Today’s post will cover the third and fourth seeds (Liu Shiwen and Cheng I-Ching, respectively) of the women’s singles event. A summary of all of Edges and Nets’ coverage of WTT Doha can be found here.

Update: China’s withdrawal from WTT Doha 2021 makes a lot of this information out of date.

We take a look at Cheng I-Ching’s race with Kasumi Ishikawa for the fourth seed at the Tokyo Olympics, Liu Shiwen’s campaign to represent China in the women’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics, and how WTT Doha factors into both of these storylines.

4 Seed Cheng I-Ching

Cheng I-Ching (WR 8) enters WTT Doha 2021 as the fourth seed. She will be looking to do better than her post-pandemic performances in the ITTF Grand Finals and World Cup, where she beat Wu Yue (WR 31) and Adriana Diaz (WR 19) but was upset by Han Ying (WR 21) 4-2 and lost to Wang Manyu (WR 4) 4-1.

As mentioned in our previous post, if the Olympics were held today, Cheng would be the fourth seed in the women’s singles event. Cheng’s top priority these next few months is making sure that Kasumi Ishikawa doesn’t pass her on the world rankings to take the fourth seed in Tokyo. Ishikawa will most likely be unable to do so immediately after this tournament, but Cheng should do her best to advance far in Qatar and deny Ishikawa the chance to pass her in a future tournament (such as a potential China Open).

From an Olympics seeding perspective, a Cheng vs Ishikawa match-up in the quarterfinals or semifinals (or perhaps even the finals) would thus be one of the highest stakes match-ups of the women’s singles event. Cheng and Ishikawa’s games complement each other very well in generating highlights. Cheng tends to take a step back and hit harder, and the extra space gives Ishikawa enough time to put in increasingly impressive blocks as Cheng hits increasingly more powerful and/or well-placed shots as seen in the point shown below from their seven-game thriller last year in Hungary.

Cheng’s matches in rounds after Ishikawa is eliminated are less important to her, as there is pretty much no chance that Cheng will pass Ito for the second seed in Tokyo. However, a win against Ito would break Cheng’s three match losing streak to her and would put her in a better place mentally in a potential future match-up in Tokyo. Since Cheng is one of China’s biggest threats to an Olympic medal in the singles event, if Cheng is able to upset Liu Shiwen or Sun Yingsha, that may very well be enough to tip the balance away from that player representing China in the women’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics.

3 Seed Liu Shiwen

Reigning World Champion Liu Shiwen (WR 7) enters WTT Doha as the third seed. Her low world rank (by her standards) is not due to losing, but rather due to the fact that she has not appeared in international competition since the pandemic due to an injury that sidelined her up until December. One of the bigger storylines of WTT Doha will be seeing whether Liu Shiwen still looks bothered by her injury. However, Liu’s injury recovery may be overshadowed by perhaps the biggest storyline of the women’s singles event in WTT Doha and beyond: can Sun or Liu make the better case for a spot to represent China in the women’s singles event in Tokyo?

While the Chinese National Team selection process is always a mystery, there are two major factors that viewers should be able to follow along with: seeding and performance against international competition.

Olympic Seeding

The current seeding situation heavily favors Sun. If Sun and Chen Meng are selected, then if the Olympics were held today Ito would be the third seed, and China would have a guaranteed path to sweeping gold and silver. However, if Liu and any other top Chinese player are selected, then Ito would be a top-two seed, setting up a potential China-China clash in the semi-finals that would result in at best a gold and bronze medal for them.

Due to her injury absence, Liu trails Mima Ito by so much in the world rankings that Liu will certainly be unable to pass Ito after WTT Doha regardless of the results. However, if Ito finishes ahead of Sun in both WTT Contender and WTT Star Contender events (e.g. Ito finishes second and Sun loses in the semi-finals or Ito finishes first and Sun finishes second), then Ito will pass Sun for the World Rank #2 spot and take control of the second seed at Tokyo Olympics. Liu may secretly hope for this situation as it would wipe away the seeding advantage that Sun has over Liu.

Performance Against International Competition

At the end of the day, silver and bronze are just icing on the cake for China, and the real prize remains the gold medal. If Liu shows she is better able to take care of business against international competition than Sun, coaches may still pick her even if she gets screwed over by the seeding situation. On the other hand, if Liu suffers an early upset, it will be up to the coaches to determine how much patience to show towards her injury recovery.

Liu is an undefeated 12-0 against Kasumi Ishikawa and 8-0 against Cheng I-Ching, who will almost certainly in some order be the fourth and fifth seed in Tokyo, and Liu has never even needed to go to a deciding seventh game against them. Both of these players have beaten Sun before (although Ishikawa has lost six straight so Sun since her last and only victory over Sun), and if they are able to pull of another upset against Sun or give her a scare, that will work in Liu’s favor.

Liu’s biggest hurdle is Mima Ito, who is likely regarded by China as the biggest threat to their gold medal aspirations. Ito actually has a winning record against Liu, but their most recent match was in 2018. Things will likely be different this time around. In 2018, the Chinese scouting resources were more focused on Miu Hirano, who had a sensational performance throughout 2017, and perhaps even Ishikawa, who was ranked in the top five, while Ito was only top ten at the time. Reflective of the lack of preparedness, in a live commentary coach Liu Guoliang bemoaned Liu Shiwen’s complete inability to handle Ito’s banana flick with the pips (as shown below).

Mima Ito’s Banana Flick with the pips

Liu Guoliang felt that the best option would be to serve short to Ito’s forehand (as shown in the first point below), but he further noted that Liu Shiwen lacked confidence to reliably serve short to Ito’s forehand. As a result, Liu served almost exclusively long to the backhand, even if that meant allowing Ito to step around for the forehand smash (shown in the second point below).

Liu Shiwen wins a point off the short serve to the forehand and then a long serve to the backhand versus Mima Ito.

After more than two years, during which Ito has become the clear-cut biggest threat to Chinese dominance, Liu will presumably have focused on developing serves to play to Ito’s weaknesses and received training on how to deal with Ito’s backhand. However, as Liu Guoliang mentioned in his commentary, executing the short serve to the forehand during training, which the whole national team should be able to do in their sleep, is much easier than in high-pressure matches.

Unless it is clear her injury is bothering her, in which case she may have bigger problems to worry about, Liu likely cannot afford another loss to Ito in Qatar. In principle, an ideal situation for Liu’s Olympic selection hopes would be for her to wipe the floor with Ito and then for Ito to beat Sun. However, due to the way the seeding works out, the only way for Sun and Ito to play each other is for Liu to lose one of them, which she certainly does not want.

Liu Shiwen’s Ideal Draw

It is unfortunate that ITTF’s nationality caps have placed the reigning World Champion in a situation where she may have to hope for her teammate to fail to increase her chances at competing in Tokyo, but that may end up being the case if Liu draws Ito in the semi-finals and Cheng draws Sun.

On the other hand, if Liu draws Sun in the semi-finals, then Liu will completely control her destiny regarding the seeding situation. Two wins over Sun in the semi-finals and two dominant wins over Ito in the finals would deliver the second seed to Ito and allow Liu to show that she can be trusted to defeat Ito and bring China the gold medal in Tokyo. Hence, Edges and Nets would find a Liu vs Sun and Cheng vs Ito semi-final most compelling.

If you liked this article, please follow Edges and Nets on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated. The next post in this series will go over seeds 3 and 4 in the men’s singles event. It will be posted on Wednesday, February 24 (North American timezone). The next article has been delayed to Thursday, February 25 due to the China’s sudden decision to withdraw from WTT Doha.

Unless stated otherwise, all images and footage in this post can respectively be found on ITTF’s Flickr page and the ITTV channel.