The Kuwait Open has come and gone and the player that’s stuck in my mind the most is Yan An. The young Chinese future superstar put in a great performance, alongside world number one Xu Xin, to take the men’s doubles title.
They beat Ma Long and Zhang Jike 3-1 in the final and easily disposed on the Koreans, Japanese and Singaporeans in the earlier rounds. A link to the video is below…
In the men’s singles, Yan An (currently ranked #66) cruised his way past Russian Grigory Vlasov, 4-0 in sets. Vlasov is ranked #104 and has had a great start to 2013 beating Patrick Baum (#41) and Bai He (#78) at the Austrian Open in January.
In the second round, Yan An was up against a formidable opponent in world number 28 (and Japan’s #3) Seiya Kishikawa. Once again, he dispatched of him quite convincingly (4-2) with a very aggressive and positive performance. To watch the game, check out the link below…
Yan An’s last 16 match-up was against Jun Mizutani, another Japanese player. Mizutani was unlucky in January, losing 4-3 to Koki Niwa in the Japanese National Championships after having a 3-1 lead. However, he didn’t make the same mistake here, this time winning the seven-setter and ending the progress of young Yan An.
However, losing 4-3 to Jun Mizutani, the world #8, is not bad going! Personally, I think Yan An has proved himself worthy of a top 20 ranking.
Yan An’s track record in ITTF World Tour Events
He’s played in four of them in the last 24 months (China 2011, Sweden 2011, Slovenia 2012 and Russia 2012) and if it wasn’t for what appears to be some pretty awful draws he may be a top 20 player already.
In those four tournaments he has played 14 matches, won 10 and lost just 4. Big wins include; Wang Hao, Xu Xin, Chen Weixing, Lee Sangsu and Tang Peng. He actually made it to the semi-finals of the highly competitive 2011 China Open before losing out to Zhang Jike.
“Who are his four loses against?” I hear you cry…
Well, in China it was Zhang Jike (then #4). In Sweden it was Wang Hao (then #2). In Slovenia it was Zhang Jike again (at which point he was up to #2). And finally, in Russia it was Xu Xin (then #3 but soon to be world #1). All I can say is what an awful draw!
It’s a shame he hasn’t had the chance to play a few more ITTF World Tour events but keep an eye out for him in 2013. He’s my “player to watch” for the coming season!