by Wade Townsend
It has been fourteen years since the Women’s Singles title has been successfully defended. That’s quite a while and demonstrates the sheer depth of strength in the women’s game. But Ding Ning shouldn’t feel to grim about her chances; a different historical statistic is on her side to take the title in Düsseldorf.
Since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the winner of Olympic gold has gone on to become World Champion the following year. Ding Ning won gold in Rio, so two decades of tradition should see her on top of the podium in Germany. Take your pick for which statistic will be upheld by the tournament’s end.
What Ding Ning has going for her that her compatriots are lacking is the untrainable quality of personality. She is a fan favourite and immediately garners the attention of the crowd when she steps on to the court. In 2011 at the Rotterdam World Championships she had the crowd already chanting her name in the early rounds. In the likely event of a battle against a fellow teammate in the final, the extra ounce of support from the crowd could be enough to tip the balance against any opponent.