(by Steve Hopkins)
Busan was the host this week of the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour SHINHAN Korea Open. Busan is a city of three and a half million on the Southeast coast of South Korea. It features a long-rounded beach on the edge of the city that looks much like the famed beach in the heart of Rio de Janeiro and Busan has a modern skyline and a large suspension bridge like San Francisco and is sometimes referred to as the San Francisco of South Korea. This was an idyllic site for this week’s tour stop.
In Men’s Singles the top seeds advanced to the Quarterfinals as expected, but then things got interesting. Fan Zhendong (World No. 1) fell in a major upset to Korea’s Youngsik Jeoung (World No. 20) with Jeoung recovering to win the final 3 games for the 4-2 win. Youngsik then advanced to the Semifinals where he faced Ma Long. Ma Long had defeated Kristian Karlsson 4-2 in their Quarterfinal match. The other upset was Wang Chuqin over Tomokazu Harimoto 4-2. Chuqin was then paired up with Xu Xin in the other Semifinal (Xu Xin overcame Liang Jingkun 4-2 to advance).
In the Semifinal matches, Xu Xin defeated Wang Chuqin 4-2 and Ma Long defeated Youngsik Jeoung 4-1. In the Final, Ma Long won the first game, but then lost four in a row as Xu Xin dominated in the all-China final.
A South Korean player made it to the Quarterfinals in Women’s Singles. Jihee upset Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching 4-1 to advance that far, but then fell to the tournament’s top seed, Ding Ning in their Quarterfinal match. Ding Ning was then matched up against Sun Yingsha in one Semifinal. And the other Semifinal was between Wang Manyu and Chen Meng. The final four spots in the event were filled by the top four seeds – all four Chinese ensuring a Chinese champion late on Sunday. The Semifinal matches also went by seed with Ding Ning (seeded 1) topping Sun Yingsha and Chen Meng (seeded 2) topping Wang Manyu. The final was the only surprise among the top seeds as Chen Meng defeated Ding Ning 4-1.
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