Zhang Yining on her way to gold in Yokohama.
Photo By: Ayoade Ademakinwa
H.I.S. 2009 World Table Tennis Championships
China’s Zhang Yining regained her Women’s Singles title on Tuesday 5th May 2009 by beating national team colleague, Guo Yue, in a contest where she recovered from a two games to nil deficit to secure victory.
Guo Yue started in the fast lane, her speed proving the telling factor but from the third game onwards, Zhang Yining gradually assumed control.
Zhang Yining won 10-12, 3-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9.
It was a brave effort against the lady, who now has the privilege of being both reigning Olympic and World champion, in what was a theatre of dreams.
The finals started in true show biz style; the lights dimmed, the spotlight shone and the umpires entered the arena.
Next the giant television screen high in the arena, showed the progress of Zhang Yining to the final, highlighting the exciting rallies at which she is so adept.
Zhang Yining entered the arena to the accolade of the announcer; the scenario was repeated for Guo Yue, now it was time for battle to commence.
In her semi-final duel against Liu Shiwen, Zhang Yining had made a lightning start, moving into a 7-0 lead; against Guo Yue, once again, she started in the fast lane. She won the first four points without repost.
At 5-1 Zhang Yining was flowing in top gear but Guo Yue responded, she matched the counter topspin skills of her adversary; at 9-all she was level and then she saved one game point before winning three in a row to secure success.
It was a massive mental boost for the defending World champion; in the second game she reversed the scenario and went ahead 4-0. However, contrary to the first game there was no recovery by the suffering player.
Guo Yue dominated the second game, she was irrepressible.
Zhang Yining walked slowly to the side of the court, she was deep in thought and clearly her thinking was clear.
In the third game she was as irrepressible as Guo Yue had been one game earlier. She went ahead 4-0 as in the first, only this time there was no charity, she sped to 8-2 and duly prevailed.
Counter Topspin Play
The counter topspin play of the Olympic champion was in full flow but in the fourth game it appeared that Guo Yue had withstood the third game barrage and was en route to extending her lead.
She led 7-5 but then Zhang Yining played error free, she did not lose a further point. It was parity.
Undoubtedly, the winning of six consecutive points was a major boost for Zhang Yining.
In the fifth game, the early exchanges were shared but from a 6-5 lead, the young lady from Beijing established her authority on the game. She moved ahead 9-6, 10-6 and then ended matter.
The momentum of the duel had swung her direction but Guo Yue fought. She went ahead 4-1 in the sixth game; at 6-5 Guo Yue maintained the lead but Zhang Yining was recovering.
Guo Yue called “Time Out”; it was only a temporary stay of execution. Zhang Yining levelled at 7-all and then never looked back.
She went ahead 9-7, Guo Yue levelled at 9-all but it was the final effort, the next two points went to Zhang Yining, the semi-final defeat in 2007 at the hands of Guo Yue at the the Liebherr World Championships was avenged.
Zhang Yining had regained the title and a tradition had been broken.
Guo Yue is only the third left hander in the history of the World Championships to be crowned Women’s Singles champion; the difference is that the other two retained their title at the second attempt.
North Korea’s Pak Yan Sun won in 1975 and retained the title in 2007 whilst Wang Nan went one step better; she won in 1999 and then again in 2001 and 2003.
Twenty year Guo Yue did not follow in illustrious footsteps but she gave a fine display and she lost to the best player on planet earth, the one and only Zhang Yining; once again the 27 year old was World champion and a worthy champion, simply superb.
The Women’s Singles medalists (left to right) Guo Yue, Zhang Yining, Li Xiaoxia and Liu Shiwen; all from China. .
Photo by Ayoade Ademakinwa