Notable names stand out, two in particular; the names of Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan and China’s Sun Yingsha.
Chuang Chih-Yuan is one of two players who has finished in runners up spot in the men’s singles event at an ITTF World Tour tournament in Japan, the other is the host nation’s Maharu Yoshimura.
Four years ago in Kobe Maharu Yoshimura was beaten in the final by China’s Xu Xin, in 2004 Chuang Chih-Yuan suffered at the hands of Chen Qi, also from China; but it is the result of 2002 that had a major bearing on the career of Chuang Chih-Yuan. He was beaten in the final by Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece, it was a defeat from which he learned, at the end of year Grand Finals in Stockholm he secured the men’s singles title, the player he beat in the final, a certain Kalinikos Kreanga.
At the time the success was quite an upset, Kalinikos Kreanga at nine years the senior being the player with the experience, now 17 years later, 38 years of age, very much Chuang Chih-Yuan is the player with the experience.
Meanwhile, for Sun Yingsha, the 2017 ITTF World Tour Japan Open represented a milestone; it is to this date her one and only such women’s singles success on the ITTF World Tour. She beat colleague Chen Meng to seal the title before the following week reaching the final on home soil in China where Ding Ning halted progress.
For Chuang Chih-Yuan and Sun Yingsha the ITTF World Tour Japan Open has been special; for whom could it be special this year?