By Neha Aggarwal
Fan Zhendong beat Zhang Jike in four games (12-10, 11-4, 5-11, 11-4).
Both have met previously five times in a world ranking event and Fan Zhendong leads the charts head to head 3-2. Certainly the confidence must have been higher for Fan. Additionally, Fan is the defending champion, he won the Asian Championship held in Pattaya in 2015 beating Xu Xin in the finals.
But for Zhang Jike, he has been out this year due to injury and fever, and thus had a point to prove, that he is still the best. Moreover, he has never won the Asian Championships before. He reached finals in 2009 in Lucknow and 2012 in Macau, losing both times to Ma Long.
Thus he had many reasons to prove himself.
Alas, that was only a dream.
The match started with Fan Zhendong winning the first game 12-10 which was pivotal moment in the match. Fan led 9-7 but the Zhang Jike covered up winning the next three points thus leading 10-9. But Fan had better answers and won the next three points consecutively to win the first game 12-10.
Remember it is a best of five match.
The remaining games were dominated by both at almost equal scores, 11-4 for Fan Zhendong and 5-11 for Zhang Jike.
In the fourth game, Fan established an initial three point lead and since then there was no turning back. He won the fourth game 11-4, the match ending in an exhibition mode.
“I am really appreciated that we have Zhang Jike in our team. He is my role model and always bring us positive energy. As you can see from this tournament, he is recovering from the injury. I can learn a lot from him. For fans, today’s match was really exciting,” said the modest Fan Zhendong.
He will now face the fearless Jeong Sangeun from Korea Republic in the finals, and has a huge responsibility on his shoulders. China has already lost the women’s singles title, and thus Fan Zhendong will have an additional pressure.
“No matter who I will face in the final, the one and only goal is to win the title. Chinese team have lost many matches to foreign players in this tournament, I hope I can shoulder more responsibility in the new Olympic cycle.”- Fan Zhendong.
Finals will be played at 17:15 local time. Watch LIVE on ITTF’s Youtube Channel.