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Austrian Open Update: Through to the Quarterfinals in Linz

Austrian Open Update: Through to the Quarterfinals in Linz

Austrian Open Update: Through to the Quarterfinals in Linz

(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)

With 14 of the top 16 players in the World on the Men’s side and 15 of the top 20 players in the World on the Women’s side, the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Austrian Open is truly an elite event.  Hosted in Linz, in the North of the country near the Czech and German borders, the tournament featured singles, doubles, and mixed doubles events for 197 men and 156 women entrants.

Three American men competed (Kanak Jha, Nicholas Tio, and Kai Zhang) as well as two American women (Lily Zhang and Jennifer Wu).  With only the top 14 men seeded (plus two Austrian players) and with only 15 women seeded (plus one additional Austrian player), there was a large set of preliminary matches that were the equivalent of a wholly separate tournament – with the top 16 qualifiers advancing.

Of the five Americans, only Kanak Jha advanced to the Knock-Out rounds.  Kai Zhang fell 4-3 to Jesus Cantero of Spain.  Nicholas Tio defeated Juan Lamadrid of Chile 4-1 but then lost to Kristian Karlsson 4-0.  Lily Zhang defeated Liu Yuan of Austria 4-0 but then fell to Gu Yuting of China 4-0. Jennifer Wu won two matches (over Belgium’s Lisa Lung and Spain’s Maria Xiao) to reach the final qualifying hurdle – but fell just short in a loss to Qian Tianyi of China).  Jennifer Wu and Lily Zhang teamed up in Women’s Doubles and managed to advance to the Quarterfinals before losing to Japan’s team of Miu Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa.

Kanak Jha fought through his qualifying rounds with wins over China’s Xu Haidong, Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, and Russia’s Kirill Skachkov.  Jha was dominant throughout, never being pressed to sixth game. Jha’s first match in the knock-out rounds was against Hugo Calderano (World No. 6).  Jha lost the first game close (11-9) and won the next two to build a 2-1 lead before Calderano won the final three games to close out the match.  A solid performance by the young US star – reaching the main draw, and then falling to a much higher seed.  Calderano went on to win his next match and is now awaiting the Quarterfinals on Saturday.

The tournament has now reached the Quarterfinals.  The Final 8 players are matched up for Saturday as follows: Fan Zhendong v. Yun-Ju Lin, Timo Boll v. Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Hugo Calderano v. Koki Niwa, and Wong Chun Ting v. Zhao Zihao.  The Final 8 on the Women’s side are not yet decided, but those that have advanced include Mima Ito, He Zhuojia, Wang Yidi, and Gu Yuting.

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