Grand Finals Winners, Chuang Chih-Yuan and Jun Mizutani Head Zagreb Seeding
Courtesy of ITTF
2016 ITTF World Tour Zagreb (Croatia) Open
Play starts in the country’s capital city of Zagreb on Tuesday May 24th and concludes on Saturday May 28th.
They are the most successful players in the history of the ITTF World Tour who are on duty in the Eastern European country; Chuang Chih-Yuan has four Men’s Singles titles to his credit, the number for Jun Mizutani is two more, he owns six.
Furthermore, they have both won the Men’s Singles title at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals; Jun Mizutani won in Seoul in 2010 and again four years later in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, Chuang Chih-Yuan succeeded in Stockholm in 2002 when he created history by becoming the only player ever to win the at the Grand Finals before succeeding on the regular Tour. Now 14 years later, that record still holds good today.
Winning at the Grand Finals is an achievement in itself but if we consider the 20 editions of the event, which first saw the light of day in Tianjin in 1996, the record is arguably even greater.
Only on five occasions has the Men’s Singles title not been won by a player from the People’s Republic of China; of those five, three are owned by Chuang Chih-Yuan and Jun Mizutani. The other two belong to Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, who won 1997 in Hong Kong and Timo Boll, who succeeded in Fuzhou in 2005.
Always when they play both Jun Mizutani and Chuang Chih-Yuan are exciting to watch, they are rally players, topspin to topspin; a fact that is a feature of the leading names on duty in Zagreb.
Notably Korea’s Jung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu are appear on the entry list, they are the respective fourth and fifth seeds; in the best traditions of their country they dazzle in rallies, athletic, exciting but a little different.
Over the years we have come to admire Korean players for dazzling footwork, racing around the court executing dynamic forehand top spin strokes.
In the days when pen-hold grip was the only style promoted in the Asian country the likes of Yoo Namkyu, Kim Taeksoo and Ryu Seungmin sped around the court executing forehand top spin strokes from all reaches of the arena.
The speed remains but now it is the shake-hands grip that prevails; it may well be argued that the major strength of Lee Sangsu is his forehand but for Jun Youngsik it is quite the reverse. Executing the backhand top spin is his forte.
The Master Defender
Two exciting Koreans on duty and there is third; a player who is very different and from an earlier generation.
Joo Saehyuk, now 36 years old, the greatest defender on the current century, is the no.6 seed.
A debut on the ITTF World Tour in 1997 in the Austrian city of Linz, somewhat surprisingly he has only one Men’s Singles title to his credit, he won in 2006 when beating Damien Eloi of France in the final.
Somewhat ironically, Lee Sangsu and Jung Youngsik who made their debuts a decade later, each possesses two ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles.
Lee Sangsu won in 2010 in Slovenia and in 2015 in Poland; Jung Youngsik won last year in Australia and on home soil in Korea.
Winning in Australia and Korea was a major breakthrough for Jung Youngsik; just as succeeding in the Czech Republic was a watershed moment for Hong Kong’s Wong Chin-Ting. Bronze medalist at the recent Nakheel 2016 Asian Cup, he is the third seed in Zagreb.
Complete Top Eight
Exciting names and two more such names to complete the top eight seeds, Tiago Apolonia who won in Austria in 2010 is the no.7 seed; Alexander Shibaev, beaten by Lee Sangsu in the 2015 Polish final, is the no.8 seed.
Major challengers for honors in the Men’s Singles event, Jung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu are names to note in the Men’s Doubles event; they are the top seeds being ahead of Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chung Ting.
Contenders for honors, the Under 21 Men’s Singles event there is major contender from the host nation.
Jakub Djyas, the defending champion, is top seed; next in line in Portugal’s João Geraldo followed by Sweden’s Anton Kallerg and Alexandre Robinot.
Visit the ITTF World Tour Zagreb (Croatia) Open website for complete coverage.
ITTF World Tour Zagreb (Croatia) Open
- Players List: includes Butterfly North America players Kanak Jha of the United States, Brian Afanador of Puerto Rico and Mo Zhang of Canada!
- Match Schedules: May 24th, May 25th