(by Steve Hopkins, photo WTT)
In Friday action at the WTT Champions Macao event China was pushed, Sweden advanced two men, and Szocs and Lebrun shook things up with big upsets.
In the first match of the day, France’s Alexis Lebrun advanced by providing the biggest upset of the tournament. World No. 30, Alexis Lebrun has defeated World No. 3 Liang Jingkun 3-2. Lebrun won the first game, but then quickly lost the next two. After finding himself down 1-2, he managed to fight from behind in each of the final games to claim the 3-2 win (9, -4, -9, 10, 10). Lebrun is now through to the Final 8 where he will face Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju. Alexis Lebrun was the top junior in the world in the rankings before turning 19 this year, but this giant step is a year or two ahead of what was expected. France has a number of promising players in the pipeline – including another Lebrun as little brother Felix is quickly rising in the rankings.
Fan Zhendong and USA’s Kanak Jha were dead even through two games (11-9, 9-11) but the World No. 1 Fan finished strong for the 3-1 win. Darko Jorgic topped Patrick Franziska 3-2 in their Round of 16 match – Jorgic will now face Fan in the Quarters.
Alexis Lebrun will face Lin Yun-Ju tomorrow. Lin topped Timo Boll in the opening round and then Pucar in the Round of 16. Both of Lin’s wins went the distance – 3-2 victories. Three Swedes were put in the same bracket (3 of the 8 players) and all three advanced to the Round of 16. Truls Moregard faced Yang Wang and won 3-2 to advance to the Quarters. Anton Kallberg and Mattias Falck played each other – and Falck won. Falck is having a solid tournament thus far, defeating Harimoto in the opening round 3-1 and then Kallberg. Falck will face Moregard next – in their all-Sweden Quarterfinal match-up.
Wang Chuqin and Ma Long will be the final Quarterfinal pairing. Ma Long won the first two games against Dang Qiu, but Qiu roared back to tie the match. Ma Long secured the win 3-2. Chuqin topped Hugo Calderano 3-0 and then defeated Dimitrij Ovtcharov 3-1 on his way to the Quarterfinal.
On the women’s side, Bernadette Szocs pulled of the upset of the tournament with her 3-2 win over World No. 2 Chen Meng. Meng won the first and fourth games – and the final game was tied 10-10, then 11-11, before Szocs ran off two in a row to secure her spot in the Quarterfinals. Szocs will face Mima Ito who defeated Miyuu Kihara 3-1 in the Round of 16.
The other matchups are Chen Xingtong versus Wang Yidi, Jia Nan Yuan versus Kasumi Ishikawa, and Sun Yingsha versus Cheng I-Cheng.
Lots of quality table tennis on tap all week long – we’ll have more updates soon.
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