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WTT Contender Almaty: Filus the Surprise Winner in Kazakhstan

(by Steve Hopkins)

Lin Yun-Ju was the heavy favorite this week in Almaty, Kazackhstan for the WTT Contender event.  Lin, as World No. 7 had a solid advantage over Lim Jonghoon (No. 18), and Anton Kallberg (No. 19) who were the next two highest seeds.  Lin dominated early, with 3-0 wins over Can Akkuzu and Fanbo Meng, fought through tough win over Mattias Falck 3-2, and then took out Liang Yanning 4-1 in the Semifinal.  In fact, it looked like an easy Final when Lin Yun-Ju ran off three wins in a row over Ruwen Filus for an almost insurmountable lead…. almost.

For his part, the eight seeded Ruwen Filus breezed through three rounds topping Zholudev, Sai, and Kallberg easily.  He then won a tight semifinal on Saturday, winning 4-3 over Hiroto Shinozuka.  On Sunday afternoon, Filus found himself down 0-3 on the verge of a very respectable second place finish, and then everything changed.  Filus pulled out one game 11-7.  He then traded points through a fifth game and managed to pull ahead at the end for an 11-9 win.  And then every ball began to fall for him – winning the last two games going away 11-5 and 11-7 for the 4-3 win.  Filus is the unlikely champion in Almaty.

American Kanak Jha defeated Alexandre Cassin in his opening match 3-2 but then fall to Anton Kallberg 2-3.   These are solid results, and at least by rating are as expected.  Jha was actually leading 2-1 over World No. 19 Kallberg and had his chances – every game was tight.

In Women’s Singles, it as top seeded Hina Hayata that won the event.  She defeated Portugal’s Fu Yu in the final 4-1.  USA’s Lily Zhang won two matches on her way to the Quarterfinals – defeating Lavrova and Han before falling to Miu Hirano.

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