(by Steve Hopkins, photo ITTFWorld)
After a pause of several months, one of the strongest fields of the year is battling in Budapest at the WTT Star Contender European Summer Series 2022 event in Hungary.
If you have been following European table tennis waiting for a changing of the guard and a new challenge to China’s dominance, then you likely enjoyed seeing Dang Qiu push Lin Gaoyuan to the fifth game (a narrow 3-2 Gaoyuan win), seeing seven European players make the Final 16, watching Jorgic top Timo Boll to reach the Quarters, and ultimately watching Sweden’s Truls Moregard weave through the draw and ultimately past World No. 3 Liang Jingkun to reach the Final. If you are a fan of non-Euro/non-Asian players, then seeing Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Egypt’s Omar Assar in the Final 16 showed promise for future results. But the biggest story line of this tournament is for fans of great, new players – that story line was China’s Wang Chuqin (World No. 14) fighting through the toughest draw of any player and winning every match.
The win is a big step for Chuqin, World No. 14, who also won the Mixed Doubles event. Chuqin has been slowly moving up the World Rankings over the last two years – but he has only recently worked his way past Lin Gaoyuan to become China’s fourth ranked player – and with Xu Xin out of the picture without any appearances to log ranking points and some young players like Xiang Peng and Yuan Licen rising fast, Chuqin needs to cement his position on the Chinese team if he wants to be there for major international competitions. Chuqin’s path to the victory included a win over Kanak Jha (World No. 32), a win over Hugo Calderano (World No. 4), a win over Lin Yun-Ju (World No. 6), a win over Ma Long (World No. 2), and a win over Truls Moregard (World No. 5). That’s not a bad career resume for many players – its certainly an amazing 4 day run.
The Final itself did not turn out to be close. Wang Chuqin won the first game. Truls Moregard had a late rally to win the second game. Chuqin then closed out the match with three consecutive wins (two were easy, and one was a tight 13-11 game). Expect to see some shuffling in the World Rankings as Chuqin is heading fast for the Top 10, and Harimoto is likely dropping a spot or two.
In the late Women’s Singles Semifinal, Wang Manyu withdrew sending Sun Yingsha to the Final. Sun Yingsha then lost 1-4 to Wang Yidi. An interesting sidenote is that Sun Yingsha has accumulated enough points to move into first in the World Rankings. Unfortunately, those points will have come from a walkover win and a Finals loss. Still, she should be back in the World No. 1 spot when the new rankings come out.
Visit ButterflyOnline.com for the latest table tennis news and results.