Boys' Singles - Semifinals (h. 10.00)
Xue Fei (CHN) - Wang Chuqin (CHN) 4:0
(11:9, 11:9, 11:3, 11:7)
A clear verdict to open the day. After earning the finals in both Boys Doubles and Mixed Doubles, China’s Xue Fei worked his way into a third final in the singles event, with a 4:0 victory over fellow Chinese (and partner in the doubles competition) Wang Chuqin. The first sets were fairly evenly played, with Xue Fei coming on top (both 11:9) with some top shots, along with very few mistakes compared to his opponent. The situation changed from the third set, with Xue literally overpowering his teammate by 11:3 in the third, and finishing him 11:7 in the fourth to end in straight sets.
Generally speaking, Xue Fei didn’t show major issues in seeing off his opponent. He impressed with his backhand play, the traditional weak point of those players choosing the penhold grip. The game could have turned another way in the second set, when Wang couldn’t finalize after taking a good advantage, but Xu actually appeared too solid for him today.
Next up for Xue Fei will be the mixed doubles final, along with Wang Manyu, vs Korea’s Kim Jiho/An Jaehyun at 1PM. Later on, at 15.40, the duo of Xue Fei and Wang Chuqin will join forces in the Boys Doubles Finals, once again vs Korea (An Jaehun/Baek Hogyun). Finally, he will tackle the boys singles finals at 17.00.
Girls' Singles - Semifinals (h. 10.40)
Sun Yingsha (CHN) - Qian Tianyi (CHN) 4:3
(8:11, 11:8, 7:11, 2:11, 11:4, 11:3, 11:7)
The second all-Chinese clash once again ended with the victory of the #1 seed, but Sun Yingsha had to fight back from a hole and go the distance against #7 Qian Tianyi, who showed glimpses of brilliancy before faltering to the distance.
Tension could be perceived in the early phase of the encounter, with both the opponents proving faulty and giving life to unexciting play, sharing one set each with the same score – 11:8. The third set seemed to represent a turning point, as Qian managed to prevail by 11:7, showing some more courage whilst Sun often indulged in unforced errors. The fourth set showed complete domination of Qian, who managed a neat 11:2 score that seemed to prelude to a quick conclusion of the encounter. Instead, back to the wall, Sun suddenly got in the flow, getting back within striking distance with the fifth set (11:4) and dominating the sixth by 11:3. With the trend now going clearly in her direction, Sun closed it in the seventh by 11:7.
Sun showed more power than the opponent, but too many mistakes brought her down to the 1:3 hole. Qian’s play disturbed Sun a lot, especially with her fluid and simple game that proved very efficient early on. But in the end, Sun got back to the top of the game, and managed to impose her play.
Before facing the Girls’ singles finals (16.20), Sun will have another final to play, and she will find Qian on her way once again: it’s the Girls’ doubles all-Chinese final (15.00) between Shi Xunyao/Sun Yingsha and Qian Tianyi/Wang Many
Boys' Singles - Semifinals (h. 11.20)
Niu Guankai (CHN) - Truls Moregard (SWE) 3:4
(11:13, 12:10, 6:11, 11:4, 11:6, 5:11, 8:11)
The incredible stretch of Truls Moregard continues, and that makes only the third time in 13 years that a European can make it to the finals at the World Table Tennis Championships. The third top-10 victim of the Swede was the #3 seed, Chinese Niu Guankai, in an exciting clash of 15-year-old players. They can’t drive or drink, but they sure know how to swing a racket, and that totally showed in Riva del Garda in a full-distance game, won by the Swede 4:3.
The first two sets were a definition for balance: very few mistakes from both sides, and the Swede showing no sign of feat against a higher-ranked player. Sweden won the first point 14:12, but Niu brought it back on even ground with 12:10 in the second set. Moregard kept on displaying a confident and powering game in the third set, won by 11:6, before surrendering two to the Chinese – 11:4 and 11:6. Whilst Moregard looked to have a better gameplan, the Chinese often astonished him with his speed of execution, making nearly sure points turn into unlikely comebackers. Once again, though, the mental solidity of the Swede came out on the distance: 11:5 and 11:8 were the scores of the final two games, the latter of which saw Moregard waste a couple of match point before effectively closing it and celebrate in the roar of Riva del Garda’s arena, who clearly took the side of the European player.
Key to Moregard’s play was his very fast work on the bounce, that really affected the Chinese’s game. Also, the Swede’s service often put Niu on the back foot.
Moregard will match China’s Xue Fei for the gold medal at 17.00. Will he be able to edge the third Chinese in a row?
Girls' Singles - Semifinals (h. 12.00)
Kato Miyu (JPN) - Wang Manyu (CHN) 1:4
(12:10, 5:11, 10:12, 7:11, 9:11)
Wang Manyu reached her third World Junior’s final in four-year period defeating 4-1 the Japanese Kato Miyu. Both players had almost the same style of play trying to win the points on the backend’s diagonal. Wang made the difference by being more stable.
The Japanese paid the consequences of two bad moments during the match. The first one when she was leading 1-1, 10-7 losing three set points in a row. The second one happened in the fourth set when she was leading 6-4 but suddenly lost the control of her game and the set 7-11.
An All-Chinese clash for the Girls’ Singles title awaits Wang Manyu against #1 seed, Sun Yingsha, but the whole afternoon will be extremely har for Wang Manyu as she’s expected to play three finals (singles, doubles and mixed doubles, definitely a strength test both on physical and mental point of view.
Mixed Doubles - Final (h. 13.00)
Xue Fei/Wang Manyu (CHN) - An Jaehyun/Kim Jiho (KOR) 4:1
(11:8, 11:5, 14:12, 8:11, 11:8)
China gained their third title with the Mixed Double, the first one in the individual events of 2017 World Junior Table Tennis Championships in Riva del Garda. Wang Manyu and Xue Fei prevailed by 4:1 in the final. No chance for An Jaehyun and Kim Jiho by 4-1: the Koreans didn’t remake the amazing performance displayed in the semifinals.
The Korean pairings’ lethal weapon, An Jaehyun’s crazy forehand, didn’t work this time as expected. The offensive shots of the two Chinese limited the potential of Korean duo impressively.
Wang and Xu showed great chemistry and appeared very complementary. For the most part the match, the Chinese players took the lead in the point and brought the match to a successful conclusion safely. China is definitely on the good way for redemption.
Girls' Doubles - Final (h.15.00)
Shi Xunyao/Sun Yingsha (CHN) - Qian Tianyi/Wang Manyu (CHN) 4:3
(7:11, 14:12, 11:4, 8:11, 10:12, 11:9, 11:9)
Another title for the top seed, another title for China in the Girls Doubles. In an all-Chinese clash, Shi Zunyao/Sun Yingsha and Qian Tianyi/Wang Manyu gave life to an extremely even match, ended at the full distance with the victory of the former couple after a ridiculously close game. For practically the whole game, it was nearly impossible to see a prevailing part of the encounter. The complete score line (7:11, 14:12, 11:4, 8:11, 10:12, 11:9, 11:9) tells volumes of the overall unfolding of the game.
The losing couple certainly had its chances to clinch the game after leading 3-2, but Sun Yingsha led her couple back on even ground, and to the final success. It was a very strategic encounter, with the players often taking the time to discuss the tactics to adopt. Sun and Shi dodged a bullet in the second set too, when – after winning the first – Wang and Qian were very close to clinching the second, wasting no less than six set-points. For China, it’s the fourth gold in four titles assigned so far.
Boys' Doubles - Final (h. 15.40)
Wang Chuqin/Xue Fei (CHN) - An Jaehyun/Baek Hogyun (KOR) 4:1
(10:12, 11:8, 11:8, 11:5, 11:5)
Another doubles triumph for China came in Boys, and this time was an historical one: Wang Chuqin and Xue Fei have become the first ever pair to win the Boys Doubles World title twice, after 2015. On the other side of things were one of 2016 winners, An Jaehyun, and teammate Baek Hogyun of South Korea, but once again the Chinese team showed little mercy, in their quest to sweep all the gold medals in Riva del Garda. So far, they are five out of five, and they are certain to bag a sixth with the upcoming Girls Singles encounter between Sun and Wang.
South Korea had started on the right foot, winning the first set by 12:10, but China inverted the tendency by winning the following two by 11:8. At that point, the outcome of the match looked somewhat fated: in spite of An Jaehyun amazing skills, Wang and Xue eased to two more 11:5 sets and the historical title. After clashing in the Boys Singles semifinal in the morning, Wang and Xue could finally celebrate together.
Girls' Singles - Final (h. 16.20)
Sun Yingsha (CHN) - Wang Manyu (CHN) 4:3
(6:11, 11:8, 11:8, 12:14, 8:11, 11:6, 14:12)
Wang Manyu barely missed the appointment with a third Girls Singles title after 2014 and 2015. This time it was to be for #1 seed Sun Yingsha, in a completely even game, decided in full sets and at the advantages, after both players had already missed a match point per part. No doubt this was a hard-luck loss for Wang, who hardly did anything less than her opponent, trying to play smart to slow down the rhythm imposed by her shorter-sized opponent.
Wang won the first set 11:6, just to surrender the two following by 11:8, in an often-interrupted game with few notable rallies in its first part. Wang Manyu managed to even the count in the fourth set, but needed the advantages to secure a 14:12 score. The two opponents kept on exchanging points, and bagged another set each until the decisive set, arguably the most spectacular of the whole game. Sun Yingsha managed to move ahead 8:5, but couldn’t avoid the comeback of Wang, with the final points characterized by several long and beautiful rallies. In the end, Sun missed a first match point, imitated by Wang just later, but Sun wouldn’t lose another chance to bring home the sixth Chinese title of this World Junior Table Tennis Championships.
Boys' Singles - Final (h. 17.00)
Xue Fei (CHN) - Truls Moregard (SWE) 4:1
(11:9, 12:10, 11:4, 9:11, 11:8)
Truls Moregard nurtured a dream, and made the whole Baltera fair (and possibly Europe) dream of an amazing and totally unexpected feat, but in the end Xue Fei won the final game of the World Junior Table Tennis Championships, securing his third title of the day and deservedly so. The match ended 4:1 for the #1 seed of the tournament, who did not disappoint and stopped the Swede’s streak vs Chinese opponents.
Both the first two sets have been close in the score, with the big difference-maker being Xue’s lightning backhand that secured him several crucial points, leaving Moregard in dismay. After the double advantage sealed by the Chinese (12:10, 11:9), some frustration emerged on 15-year-old Moregard, who lost his focus and surrendered the third set practically without a fight (11:4). When it was easy to predict a quick conclusion, the Swede managed to return in the game by going head-to-head with the Chinese in the fourth fraction, boosted by the fans’ support in Riva del Garda, and ended up taking the 3:1 point by 11:9. After that, though, it was once again Xue Fei’s backhand that made the difference in the decisive set, won by 11:8. And the China sweep is served.