Veteran table tennis sensation Seo Hyo-won (36-KOR), ranked 108th in the world, is aiming for her second consecutive World Championship quarterfinal.
Hyo-won Seo rallied from behind to defeat Adina Diakonu (59th-Romania) 4-2 (11-9, 11-3, 11-6, 10-12, 11-13, 11-6) in the Women’s Singles Round of 32 at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Championships 2023 at the Durban International Convention Center (DICC) in Durban, South Africa, on Thursday (July 24).
After taking three games in a row, her opponent adjusted to Seo’s defense and took the fourth game 12-10, the fifth game 13-11, and a deuce game to bring the score to 2-3. However, the veteran took the last six games 7-1 to regain momentum with her trademark quick counter-attack, closing out the match with an easy 11-6 victory to advance to the round of 16.
“I went in confidently because it was my first match,” said Seo Hyo-won, the ‘attacking defender’, in an on-site interview after her round of 16 victory. The first three games went easily. It became difficult when my opponent changed his game plan, but I was able to win at the end while playing my best offense, so it feels good.” “In games 1-3, my opponent didn’t know me very well, so I couldn’t adapt to the pitches and the way he attacked, but I adapted and went to the district (games 4-5). That’s where I got rushed and lost points,” he said, recalling the crisis. “In the last game, I created an attack and played a more confident fast rhythm, which made her shake and miss,” she said with approval.
Seo Hyo-won is one of the biggest stars of Korean women’s table tennis and the longest-serving player in the sport. After a series of injuries, she considered retirement, but under the careful guidance of her ‘legendary teacher’ and mentor, Hyun Jeong-hwa, she re-signed with the KTA last year, and this year, she beat her juniors in the national selection tournament and proudly wore the taegeuk mark. At last year’s World Championships in Houston, USA, she was the only Korean woman to reach the quarterfinals of the singles event, defending the pride of Korean table tennis. She is aiming for her second consecutive quarterfinal.
The round of 16 is a fateful Korea-Japan match. Her opponent is Japanese top-ranked Hina Hayata (World No. 10). Hayata swept Miyu Nagasaki 4-0 in the round of 32 to reach the round of 16. Seo Hyo-won conveyed her desperation with the word ‘last’. For the 87-year-old table tennis player, every moment is crucial. She approaches the table with the determination that every match is her last. “The Japanese players are not easy, but I will try to win as much as I can with my skills and everything I have,” she said, adding, “It could be my last time. I will do my best.” When asked about the end, Seo Hyo-won said, “I’m always playing as if it’s the last time because of my age, injuries, and many other things.” “If I could do more, I would, but I might not have the chance. I want to praise myself for making it to the round of 16, and I will do my best.”
-On reaching the round of 16
“I went in confidently because I was the first player, and it was easy to get to 3-0, but my opponent changed his game plan, so it was difficult, but I played my best attack at the end and won, so it feels good.
-There were times when you struggled in the fourth and fifth sets.
First of all, in the first, second, and third sets, my opponent didn’t know me very well, so I couldn’t adapt to the pitches or the way when I attacked, but when he adapted, he went to the globe, and I went to the globe without straining myself, but I lost points because I was in a hurry there, and in the sixth set, I made an attack and played a fast beat with more confidence, and I think my opponent was shaken and missed.
-Your goal was to reach the quarterfinals, but you’ll meet Japanese ace Hina Hayata in the round of 16.
It’s not easy for Japanese players, but I’m going to try to win as much as I can with my skills and everything I have, because I might be the last, so I’ll do my best.메이저놀이터
I’m always playing as if I’m the last, because I’m old, I’m injured, and in many ways I’m always playing as if I’m the last. If I do more, I can do more, but I might not have a chance. I want to give myself a pat on the back just for making it to the round of 16, and it’s the round of 16, right? I think the Japanese players are better than the Chinese players in the round of 16, so I’m going to do my best.