(BY MATT HETHERINGTON)
He made a massive impression on his last visit to the USA, winning the Westchester November and December Opens and the 2017 Butterfly Teams competition, now Jun Han Wu is back for more and has started his campaign in style. His first tournament back on arrival was the 2017 Princeton Pong April Open and he asserted himself from the very beginning and didn’t look back.
He faced competition from a small field of contenders, the likes of Kai Zhang (2645), Azeez Jamiu (2624) and the three Alguetti brothers (all over 2550). These opponents would prove no match for the 2743 rated Wu, a Jia A player in China (one division below the Chinese Super League).
He cruised through the group stages with two 3-0 victories over Igor Shulkin and Michael Leshinsky to advance to the quarterfinals. The other groups would provide some more entertaining clashes. Gal Alguetti pressed 2nd seed Kai Zhang all the way to the 5th game before the 2015 World Junior Circuit Finals bronze medalist was able to find some latent form and close out the match.
Meanwhile Nigeria’s Azeez Jamiu clenched a tightly contested 3-1 win over Sharon Alguetti. Going into the main draw the seedings would remain intact and Jun Han would continue his dominant run. He would overcome both Gal and Adar Alguetti in comfortable 3-0 quarterfinal and semifinal matches respectively to make the final. On the bottom half of the draw it was Azeez Jamiu who upset the order with an outstanding 3-0 win over Kai Zhang to setup a finals challenge.
The finals would see Jun Han (2743) take on Azeez Jamiu (2624). Azeez of course having had some impressive wins over other Chinese players in the USA, the likes of Li Jian and Liang Jishan at the Cary Cup last month. The early lead however went to Wu, who’s serve and tight play proved difficult for Jamiu, as well as the high rotation on his opening ball both forehand and backhand. Even on the attack of the Nigerian player, Wu countered either with blocks or high speed counters. It seemed the Chinese player had a never ending repertoire of tactics and skills to dig into.
With a 3-0 lead in hand, Wu narrowed in for the finish. Shooting out to an 8-4 lead he found himself with the finish line in sight. Jamiu however was not ready to call it quits and clung on to the match, coming back to tie at deuce. The end of the 4th set proved the highlight of the match with a point for point back and forth before Azeez Jamiu stole the game away 16-14 to stay in the match.
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