by Simon Daish
Ma Long has successfully defended his Men’s Singles title in Doha after coming out on top against his fellow compatriot from China Fan Zhendong in the final.
Seeded first and second respectively for the 2016 event Ma Long and Fan Zhendong were competing in a repeat fixture of last year’s Men’s Singles final, with Fan Zhendong looking for revenge following his seventh game defeat to Ma Long at the 2015 Grand Finals. But, Ma Long went on to pick up his fifth gold medal in the category after registering a 4-2 victory over Fan Zhendong in a highly entertaining match.
The start of the tie was dominated by Ma Long as he secured the opening three games with no response from his opponent. However, Fan Zhendong not only managed to pull one game back but also saved four match points in the fifth end to narrow the score to 3-2. Fan Zhendong continued to try and force a deciding game, but it was not to be for the 19-year-old as Ma Long held strong to secure the trophy (11-5, 11-4, 11-9, 7-11, 12-14, 11-9).
Another Chinese player to enjoy a successful day in Doha was Zhu Yuling after the no.3 seed won the Women’s Singles title for the first time following her triumph over the 11th seed from Germany Han Ying.
Zhu Yuling went into the 2016 Grand Finals without having won a Women’s Singles gold medal on the ITTF World Tour since her success at the 2015 Czech Open in Olomouc, but that stat wouldn’t hold the 21-year-old back in Doha as she thundered to a 4-0 victory over her opponent Han Ying in straight games (11-9, 12-10, 12-10, 11-3) to win the Women’s Singles title.
“I was anxious because this is the first time for me to play in the Grand Finals at the end of the year. I was eager to win. Luckily, I could stay at the crucial points; for me, this match is the accumulation of experience” – Zhu Yuling (China).
The Men’s Doubles final produced a terrific comeback effort by Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu who recovered from 0-2 down to defeat top seeds Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima by a 4-2 scoreline (5-11, 2-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4) to become the third pairing from Korea to win the trophy.
Eight pairs entered the Women’s Doubles tournament and out of those eight teams the title fell to the no.7 seeds Yui Hamamoto and Hina Hayata; Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching had stunned the no.1 seeds Jeon Jihee and Yan Haeun in the previous round, but they were unable to put in a repeat performance in the final as Japan’s Yui Hamamoto and Hina Hayata found their way to a sixth game victory (11-8, 15-17, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10) to claim their first Grand Finals trophy in the category.
Hina Hayata’s win in the Women’s Doubles came after her title capture in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event with Doo Hoi Kem again ending up on the wrong side of the result (11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-7), while the Under 21 Men’s Singles prize went to Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting who overcame Yuto Muramatsu of Japan (11-6, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8) without dropping a game.