T2 Diamond Singapore Recap
(by Steve Hopkins)
The final T2 Diamond 2019 series event has concluded in Singapore. For those not familiar, the T2 Diamond rules provide for a shorter version of the sport. The match is given 24 minutes to complete, and if the match is undecided at that point, then special rules are applied. Any game that begins after the 24th minute is shortened to 5 points. Also, there is no deuce in any game – so a final score of 11-10 is possible prior to the 24th minute, and after the 24th minute a final score could be 5-4. This alteration of the rules does little to change the matches early – but it does create some very high-pressure situations with a premium on every point in the final few games. Invitations are provided to 16 men and 16 women. The Singapore event began on Thursday and concluded on Sunday.
The seeding for the event is based upon ITTF rankings with modifications based upon previous T2 Diamond results – with the results affecting the ITTF rankings. Xu Xin (World No. 2) was the top seed with Lin Gaoyuan (World No.3) was the second seed, Harimoto (World No. 5) was the third seed, and Yun-Ju Lin (World No. 10) was pushed up to the fourth seed based upon his first-place finish at the Malaysia T2 Diamond event last summer.
As with the previous T2 Diamond events, there were some upsets early. Liang Jingkun (World No. 7) fell to Youngsik Jeoung in the Round of 16. In the match, Jeoung won the first game 11-5 and won the second game 11-10 (a T2 Diamond one point victory). Jingkun then won the third game 11-7 and then fell behind 3-1 after losing Game 4. After that, the 24 minutes had ended and the final three games were only to 5 points. Jingkun won the first two (5-4 and 5-2) but lost the seventh and deciding game 5-3.
World No. 6 Hugo Calderano fell to Koki Niwa 4-2, with the final two shortened games both going to Koki 5-3 and 5-2. And Dimitrij Ovtcharov fell to Jun Mizutani 4-3 with the final three games all shortened (two of those three games went to Mizutani).
The top seeds all advanced to the Semifinals (recognizing that Yun-Ju Lin was the fourth seed, but is the No. 10 player in the world per the ITTF rankings). In this format, Yun-Ju has proven to be one of the world’s best with his victories in this tournament including wins over Woojin Jang (4-2), Patrick Franziska (4-2), and Lin Gaoyuan (4-0). Xu Xin overcame Harimoto in the Semifinals and then won the final 4-0 over Yun-Ju Lin. The victory goes to the top seeded Xu Xin, but the biggest story of the event once again goes to Yun-Ju.
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