Top stars in both the men’s and women’s singles events at the China National Games took care of business in the round of 16.
In the men’s singles event, Wang Chuqin went the distance against Xu Yubing, winning 11-9 in the seventh game. After the match, Wang said that it was better to go through these challenges now in the domestic competition rather than the international competition. Other big names such as Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin, Zhou Qihao, and Liang Jingkun had an easier time, winning their round of 16 matches in four or five games.
In the women’s singles event, the eight quarterfinalists are also the eight women at this tournament with the highest World Ranking (note Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling did not play the tournament due to retirement and injury respectively). Among the four members of the Tokyo Olympic team, only Wang Manyu had to play more five games as she notched a 4-2 victory over Liu Fei.
After the match, Wang noted that playing choppers is actually quite physically tiring, and she also had to play a chopper earlier in the team event as well. She remarked that one of the difficulties in playing Liu Fei was that some balls that look like they’re floating out tend to end up landing on the baseline.
Liu Shiwen, Chen Meng, and Xu Xin all noted that everyone is very familiar with each other at this tournament. In particular, this is Xu’s third time playing Zhou Yu in the China National Games spanning across 12 years. Xu said while a lot has changed between them, including their emotional makeup, their desire to win is still the same. Xu is soaking in the moment a bit as he gets older and he has to invest more energy into his family rather than playing. However, for this tournament he feels like he is locked in and playing well.
Liu Shiwen echoed similar sentiments about treasuring the moment and simply wanting to play one more match as she gets older. Liu stated that it was good to be back, as this was essentially her first real tournament in a year and a half. Liu noted that her 4-0 victory over Gu Yuting was still a challenge, since they are familiar with each other. In particular, Liu was able to eke out two close victories in the first two games, after which she felt Gu’s level of play dropped as Liu took the third and fourth game 11-7.
Sun Yingsha received a brief early scare as she was leading in the first game but lost six straight points. Sun stated that she was happy that she was able to regroup, and that the quality of play would only increase going further into the tournament as everyone appears to be playing at their peak condition. She also had praise for her round of 16 opponent Zhang Chi, noting Zhang’s heavy spin and ability to get her opponent stuck.
If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out the $3K ASLT Oktoberfest in San Diego, California on October 22-24.