Known as one of the most culturally rich and beautiful cities in the world, Budapest, Hungary, is also host to some of the most prestigious table tennis events of 2019. The World Table Tennis Championships is set to take place from April 21-28, but most recently, the Hungarian Open (Jan 15-20) successfully concluded as the very first ITTF World Tour of the year.
Over the past six days, star studded athletes from all over the world showed up to compete. Fans were awarded with breathtaking rallies and intense and gripping matches. Emotions ran high and every single athlete fought tooth and nail for the title, but only a few emerged triumphant, with China sweeping all five gold medals in Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles.
LIN Gaoyuan (CHN) seemed to be on a warpath to redeem his 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon, Korea loss against Tomokazu HARIMOTO (JPN). In the men’s singles finals, he convincingly won 4:0 against WANG Chuqin (CHN), his young and promising teammate who himself notably beat world no. 6, Hugo CALDERANO (BRA) and world no.1, FAN Zhendong (CHN) on his way to the final. LIN also defeated an astounding four of his own teammates from China on his path to victory, demonstrating to the world that his win was far from just a fluke.
In the women’s singles final, CHEN Meng (CHN) maintained her impressive form from last year by overcoming teammate and top seed ZHU Yuling (CHN) 4:2. CHEN has participated in an astounding thirteen ITTF World Tour finals and has now gotten the better of ten of them. Her winning stats display an incredibly stable and reliable level of the highest caliber, as well as a bright future to becoming one of the great legends in table tennis.
The Hungarian Open also featured the recently implemented mixed doubles event for ITTF World Tour events. Because of the mixed doubles event set to debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this event held particular importance for those who want to qualify for the world’s largest and most esteemed sporting event. Chinese superstars, XU Xin and LIU Shiwen, took the title with a 3-0 win over Hungary’s very own Adam SZUDI and Szandra PERGEL. Despite the loss, the host nation’s pair demonstrated an inspirational run over the course of the competition. They notably defeated HO Kwan Kit and LEE Ho Ching (HKG) 3:1, Tristan FLORE and Laura GASNIER (FRA) 3:1, and Alexander SHIBAEV and Polina MIKHAILOVA (RUS) 3:0 to reach the final.
Even though we’ve come to the end of the first ITTF World Tour of 2019, it’s just the beginning to a new year that will unquestionably be packed with excitement and drama.
Featured image courtesy of ITTF.