Ma Lin seeking better fortunes in Suzhou
Photo By: Remy Gros
GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour, Harmony China Open
Eyes will focus heavily on Ma Lin and Chen Qi, when they enter the main draw of the Men’s Singles event on Friday 24th August at the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Harmony China Open in Suzhou.
It will be exactly the same for Liu Shiwen.
Ma Lin and Chen Qi are the respective second and sixth seeds in the Men’s Singles event and together they are the top seeds in the Men’s Doubles competition; the local fans expect them to appear on the medal rostrum when matters conclude on Sunday 26th August.
Equally, Liu Shiwen is expected to deliver in the Women’s Singles event.
Furthermore, all three have their own special reasons for wanting to perform well and succeed in Suzhou.
Great to Experience Atmosphere
In November 2011, Liu Shiwen won the Women’s Singles event at the ITTF Pro Tour Finals in London’s ExCeL Exhibition Centre; however, when the venue staged the Olympic Games nine months later, Liu Shiwen was a member of the support team, she was not a first team selection.
"It was great to personally experience the ambiance of the London Olympics, even though I did not get a chance to play there”, said Liu Shiwen. “I hope I can play well in Suzhou this time, so as to showcase my true ability; of course, to play in Rio is definitely my ultimate dream."
Won in 2009
She may well realize that dream and she has done well in Suzhou in the past. She won the Women’s Singles title at the Harmony China Open in 2009; a tournament which saw all three members of the Chinese Women’s Team, who competed in the London 2012 Olympic Games, present.
Liu Shiwen beat Li Xiaoxia in the semi-final and Guo Yue in the final; Guo Yue having ousted Ding Ning in the quarter-finals.
A determined young lady set to prove that she was worthy of first team selection in London and also with happy memories of Suzhou; she desperately wants to savour the Olympic experience as a leading lady, not a member of the supporting cast.
Happy memories of Suzhou for Liu Shiwen; for Ma Lin, he has the opposite and seeks a good performance to erase the memory of one year ago when he suffered an unexpected defeat that led to a series of unexpected defeats.
First Round Loss
"I lost in the first round here last year, I certainly do not want to repeat that early exit this time”, said Ma Lin. “It is true that I did not practise too much during and after the Olympics but I still desire to use this opportunity in Suzhou to maintain my form and keep going."
One year ago in Suzhou he was beaten by Russia’s Alexey Liventsov in seven games.
Changing the memory of Suzhou is the task for Ma Lin; for Chen Qi it is enhancing the memory. The city is special for the 28 year old.
"Suzhou is very close to my hometown; therefore, I would like to take the home court advantage and do well”, said Chen Qi. “On the other hand, it wouldn't be a bad thing if a foreign player wins a title here; I love this beautiful southern city, it is so charming."
Chen Qi hails from Nantong, it is in Jiangsu Province, the same province in which Suzhou is situated; as for a foreign winner that would be welcomed, competition is always good for sport.
An Omen for German Star
However, history suggests the odds are against a player from outside China winning the Men’s Singles event; only two non Chinese players have achieved that feat in China since the ITTF Pro Tour began in 1996.
In 1997 Zoran Primorac won in Zhuhai; however more significantly in 2006 Timo Boll succeeded in Guangzhou when he beat Wang Liqin in the final.
A good omen for Timo Boll? Both are present in 2012.