by James Francis
Ma Long clinched his sixth ITTF Final title, extending the record he already held in the competition. The No. 3 seed defeated defending and seeded champion Fan Zhendong with a classy performance (13-11, 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8).
Earlier today, Chen Meng became the first player to win ITTF Finals gold in four consecutive years. The seed defeated fourth-seeded Wang Manyu (11-9, 11-13, 14-12, 11-8, 11-5) in what was a repeat of the final a year ago, also in Zhengzhou.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED FOR MY LONG
After suffering a narrow loss at the hands of Fan Zhendong exactly seven days ago in the final of the ITTF Men’s World Cup Dishang 2020, Ma Long was a man on a mission in Zhengzhou.
It was a mission he accomplished brilliantly, having won gold for the sixth time since his first success in 2008 in Macau. He has now won the ITTF final twice as many as his closest challenger, Wang Liqin, who triumphed three times in 1998, 2000 and 2004.
During the week, Ma was never stretched for the total distance of seven games. After taking into account the German Patrick Franziska, seeded No. 13 (12-10, 11-1, 11-6, 11-4), he saw the Swede Mattias Falck, seeded No. 8 ( 11-5, 7-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9, 13-11) to reserve a place in the semi-final. Increasingly confident, he reserved his place in the final by coming back from a losing position against fellow great Chinese, Xu Xin, seeded No.2 (11-13, 11-9, 11-9, 11- 8, 11- Sep).
“I am very happy to have won such a difficult battle. Every point was difficult to win and I believe Fan Zhendong could sense it too. In the end, it was just a big relief for me. In terms of overall capacity on the table, Fan is second to none at this point today. Since last year, we’ve faced each other in several finals, including at the Men’s World Cup last week, and he had the upper hand. In today’s game I really wanted to challenge him and luckily I managed to win. – My Long
This time around, a silver medalist Fan Zhendong reached Sunday’s showdown with a semi-final victory over the tournament’s surprise package, No. 14 seeded Jang Woojin of the Republic of Korea (11-8 , 11-4, 13-15, 11-8, 11-5).
On day one of action, Jang had caused two of the biggest shocks of the event, saving two match points in Game 5 to oust No.4 seed of Japan Tomokazu Harimoto (6-11, 2- 11, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 11-2, 11-5) before knocking out China’s Lin Gaoyuan, seeded No.5, in the quarterfinals (11-7, 10-12 , 1- 11, 11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6).
CHEN MENG ENTERS AN UNCHARGED TERRITORY
The first player to win four consecutive titles in the ITTF Finals, Chen Meng added to her victories in 2017 (in Astana), 2018 (Incheon) and 2019 (Zhengzhou). In doing so, she broke the record of three successive gold medals she shared with Liu Shiwen, who triumphed in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Chen is now at the same level as Zhang Yining in four women’s singles titles in the ITTF finals. Zhang previously held the record with victories in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006.
Chen grew in strength and stature during his four days in Zhengzhou. In the first round, she was tested by Japan’s Miyu Kato, the No. 15 seed (11-6, 13-11, 7-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4). Later, in the quarter-finals, she overcame her biggest challenge, recovering from a two-game zero deficit against No.14 seed of Germany Petrissa Solja (9-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6) to claim victory.
A place in the semifinals assured, Chen was imperious against the Chinese opposition. She beat Sun Yingsha, the No.3 seed, in back-to-back games (11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 12-10) to book a showdown with a fit player Wang Manyu. In the penultimate round, Wang put an end to the hopes of the Japanese Mima Ito, seeded No. 2, with a powerful display from her (11-3, 11-4, 11-9, 11- 6). The victory saw the 21-year-old reach her first international final since last year’s loss to Chen Meng in the ITTF final, but she was unable to get revenge for her irrepressible adversary.
“The first three games were very close. The difference was still two points. Despite leading most of the time, Wang Manyu continued to close the gap and the whole game was always close. She was really determined and played really good shots, putting a lot of pressure on me. I could feel she really wanted to win. At a few crucial moments she made mistakes, but I made several myself. – Chen Meng
Chen Meng has a 100% record in 2020 in ITTF competitions. She celebrated her victory at the ITTF World Tour Platinum events in Germany and Qatar before the COVID-19 pandemic brought global activity to a halt in March. Since the #RESTART series began in November, she has been the star of the series with gold medals both at the Women’s World Cup and now at the ITTF Finals.
#RESTART ENDS IN STYLE. NOW FOR WTT MACAO!
The Bank of Communications ITTF 2020 final represented the third and final event in the #RESTART series, which heralded the return of international table tennis after eight months of suspended activity due to COVID-19.
Table tennis is one of the first sports to return to the international stage since the outbreak of the pandemic and the #RESTART series has been a resounding success, bringing action, drama and emotion to the entire global fan base. . The events have been organized in strict accordance with COVID-19 protocols to ensure the highest health and safety standards for the athletes and everyone involved in the events.
Attention now turns to WTT Macau, a special promotional showcase that will be held from November 25-29, 2020, which will offer a first glimpse into the future of the sport. World Table Tennis (WTT), which is responsible for all global business and event activities, was created to elevate the sport to exciting new heights by taking a fresh look at the way table tennis events are organized. .
WTT Macau offers an original and exciting game format and will feature many of the sport’s biggest stars in all-new WTT environments. It is a moment that is sure to grab attention and leave a special legacy for the sport. Stay tuned!