(by Steve Hopkins)
The second event in the Euro Summer Series, The WTT Champions European Summer Series 2022, has come to a close in Hungary. Before this Final, Tomokazu Harimoto and Lin Gaoyuan were 2-2 in head to head match-ups. Had you looked at the scoreboard any time during the first half of the Final, you would have seen a dominant performance by Lin Gaoyuan – logging 11-3, 11-7, and 14-12 wins to go up 3-0. Gaoyuan was powerful and precise, and his short game was setting up his backhand – and when he got a full swing, Harimoto had no answer. In that third game, Harimoto expent a lot of energy to build a 2 point lead late, and when he lost that long game, no one would have been surprised if this turned in to a 4-0 or 4-1 snoozer. But Harimoto turned it up a notch. He began aggressively attacking serves with his backhand (both on backhand and forehand sides of the table), and he pushed forward not giving ground and pressing the pace. The aggression paid off and Harimoto won a game, and then a second. But in the sixth game, it finally looked as though Gaoyuan had the match closed out – Gaoyuan was up 10-5, with momentum. But instead of tapping out, Harimoto ran off five in a row to tie the game, and then traded points until he was able to take the 11-13 win to tie the match at 3-3. In the final game, it was Gaoyuan again up. At 7-2 gaoyuan was solidly in control, but Harimoto began to eat away at the lead again. First Harimoto shrunk the lead to 4-8, then 7-9, and then tied the game 9-9 and put it away 9-11. Harimoto wins with a comeback – winning 4 in a row, including winning two games where he was down by 5 points.
The Harimoto win was an exciting conclusion to the Euro Summer Series. In fact, in this installment, there were World No. 2 Ma Long was upset by Patrick Franziska, World No. 3 Liang Jingkun was upset by Chuang Chih-Yuan, Truls Moregard was upset by Marcos Freitas, Dimitrij Ovtcharov was upset by Alexis Lebrun, Wang Chuqin was upset by Kristian Karlsson, and those were just the headliner upsets. Lots of exciting matches throughout – and unlike many tournaments of the past, the result of many of these was truly in question throughout.
The Women’s Singles event, Wang Manyu continues to make waves. Manyu (World No. 3) upset Chen Meng (World No.2) and then topped Wang Yidi (World No.4) in the Final. The top Chinese women continue to dominate international competitions – but within their ranks, Wang Manyu appears to be moving up.
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