by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Intentions were very clear from the start; Ding Ning was focused. In the opening game she was the first to attack, the first to seize the initiative.
However, close to the table counter top spin skills from Zhu Yuling enabled her to level matters and seize a 5-0 advantage in the third game. The speed of the rallies as both players tried to outdo each other in the art of keeping the ball on the table one exchange longer than their adversary, enthralled the crowd.
Advantage to Zhu Yuling, leading two games to one, the fourth game followed the pattern of the one previous with fast counter top spin exchanges; trailing 5-6, Ding Ning called “Time Out”; the break had no immediate effect. At 10-9, Zhu Yuling had the opportunity to seize a three games to one lead. It was that stage, in particular, strength of character showed. Ding Ning won the next three points, secured the fourth; those three points changed the momentum of the match.
Ding Ning won a hard fought fifth game before securing the first two points of the sixth. Zhu Yuling called “Time Out”.
At the end of the third game, the momentum had been with Zhu Yuling; it was now with Ding Ning. The quality of the play, the quite incredible rallies continued but it was Ding Ning who prevailed in the majority; great credit to Zhu Yuling, she fought tooth and nail.
Ding Ning was in the ascendancy, at 10-6 she held match point; one point was saved, not the second, Ding Ning squealed in delight.
“I came here not expecting to win the World Championships for the third time. It really depended on my state of mind and condition and that of the opponents; different about the third time is that before I felt like I was challenging for the title and trying to defeat others. I am now in the spotlight and others are challenging me.” Ding Ning
It was the 15th all Chinese Women’s Singles final at a World Championships; for Ding Ning it was a third appearance in the title decider and the third time she had won.
She emerged successful in Rotterdam in 2011 and four years later in Suzhou having been a semi-finalist in Paris in 2013; now by winning in Düsseldorf, she joins the elite of the modern era when the tournament has been in alternate years.
“Coming in I thought my injuries might impact my performance. In terms of injuries it’s something that all athletes have to deal with. I want to acknowledge the amount of support my teammates and my coaches have given me. I haven’t given the Tokyo Olympics much thought. I just want to do well in this Championship and haven’t thought about the next big thing.” Ding Ning
Notably she joins colleagues Deng Yaping and Wang Nan and Deng Yaping, who each have three World Championships Women’s Singles titles