by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The combination proved quite ideal; left handed, pen-holder, outstanding near the net with delicate angled returns of service, possessing one of the longest and most lethal forehands ever known to man, Xu Xin is made for doubles.
Simply ask Zhang Jike with whom he was later to win the Men’s Doubles title!
In Suzhou, Xu Xin was the team captain; Yang Haeun was the student, following the instructions of the professor. She obeyed those directives to perfection, strong from the backhand, her consistency, clever placement, enabled Xu Xin to release the heavy artillery.
Now surely that was a feat in itself; to the best of my knowledge Xu Xin does not have a first class honour degree in Korean and Yang Haeun is not fluent in Chinese.
“We had little time to practise. However, I think one of the main reasons for our success was that we communicated well”, Yang Haeun
Two separate national associations in harmony and made possible following the relaxation of the regulation that pairings must be from the same governing body.
It was for the first time in just over 60 years that players from different countries had combined to win the Mixed Doubles title at a World Championships. The most recent previous occasion being in 1954 at the Wembley Arena in London, when representing the country that was known as Czechoslovakia at the time, Ivan Andreadis partnered Hungary’s Gizella Gervai to success.
In fact in those days it was quite the norm, in 1951 in Vienna, Romania’s Angelica Rozeanu had won in partnership with Bohumil Vana, like Ivan Andreadis representing Czechoslovakia; before in Bombay in 1953 and Bucharest in 1953, she had succeeded in partnership with Hungary’s Ferenc Sido.
Different national associations, the same national association; in Suzhou did it matter?
Just look on the smile of the faces of Yang Haeun and Xin Xin, it gave you the answer; what mattered was being World champions.