(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
The T2 Diamond 2019 series has started its second season with the July 18-21 event in Iskandar Malaysia. 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 were provided to 16 men and 16 women. The event began on Thursday and will conclude on Sunday.
On Thursday, half of the Men’s Singles opening matches were played and three of the four matches went to the favorite. Ma Long (World No.5) topped Simon Gauzy 4-1, Xu Xin (World No. 1) topped Dimitrij Ovtcharov 4-0, and Lin Gaoyuan (World No. 2) topped Wang Chuqin.
The unexpected result came when Wong Chun Ting (World No. 18) upset Tomokazu Harimoto (World No. 4) 4-2 with the T2 Diamond special rules coming into play three times in the six games. Wong won the third game 11-10 (with no deuce). And Won and Harimoto split the final two games with Harimoto winning one game 5-2, and Wong winning the final game 5-3.
On Friday, Yun-Ju Lin (World No. 16) upset Jun Mizutani 4-0, Patrick Franziska upset Liang Jingkun 4-2, Mattias Falck (World No. 9) defeated Koki Niwa 4-2, and Fan Zhendong (World No. 3) defeated Hugo Calderano 4-0.
Ma Long is now in prime position, in the half of the draw that saw three upset. He will face Lin (No. 16) in one Quarterfinal and the other Quarterfinal in that half of the draw will be Franziska and Wong (No 17 v. No. 18).
The bottom half of the draw is loaded with World No 1, World No.2, and World No.3. Xu Xin will face Mattias Falck and Fan Zhendong will face Lin Gaoyuan. The action continues with Quarterfinals on Saturday and then Semifinal and Final matches on Sunday.
The top four seeds in the Women’s Singles event have all advanced to the Quarterfinals. The matchups on Saturday will be Wang Manyu/Han Ying, Feng Tianwei/Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling/Sun Yingsha, and Kato/Chen Meng.
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