by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
On home soil in China she had departed proceedings at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event, earlier in the year in Kuwait it had been the same outcome.
Meanwhile, in Qatar, Japan and Korea, it had been a penultimate round exit for the player who started the year with three ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles titles to her name. She won in Sweden and Kuwait in 2014, the following year in the Czech Republic.
Now after an 18 month wait since the success in Olomouc, it was success again for Zhu Yuling and her name added to the illustrious list of her predecessors from the Chinese National Team who have secured the 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. Wining this tournament at the end of this year is a small step for me. I hope I can play well in the next year. In the new circle of Olympics, I think, no matter what problem I will meet, I will spare no effort to prepare for Tokyo Olympics”, Zhu Yuling
In 1996 when the first ever Grand Finals were stage in Tianjin with the Deng Yaping emerging the winner, a player representing China has now won the title on 18 occasions; the tournament in Doha being the 21st edition.
Zhu Yuling becomes the tenth Chinese player to win the title but if she is eventually going to top the list she has some distance to travel.
Zhang Yining leads the field with four wins, followed by Liu Shiwen who succeeded three times. Wang Nan and Guo Yan each won twice, whilst it is one each for Ding Ning, Guo Yue, Li Ju, Li Xiaoxia and Niu Jianfeng.
A landmark win for Zhu Yuling and it was the same for Han Ying; she became the first player representing a national association from outside Asia to reach the final of the Women’s Singles event at the Grand Finals.