by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In 2009 in Yokohama and the following year in Rotterdam Ding Ning was the runner up in partnership with Guo Yan; in 2013 in Paris with Liu Shiwen, before two years ago in Suzhou having to settle for second place in harness with Li Xiaoxia.
“I am very excited and happy because my first four attempts did not succeed. I am so happy.” Ding Ning
A tense opening game, Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen established a 7-3 lead but surprisingly they won just two more points; the early advantage was with Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling.
Immediately, Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen responded, the second game was captured. In the third just as in the first, they made the better start. They went ahead 4-1 but after both after both pairs had saved game points; at 13-11 it was success for Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling.
In the fourth game neither pair was able to establish an advantage until at 6-4, after a quite outstanding rally, Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen took what proved to be a decisive lead. Once again it was parity.
Tension was evident in both partnerships; leading 6-5 in the fifth game, Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen elected for “Time Out”. It proved a wise move. The duo extended the advantage to 9-5 before eventually securing success; for the first time in the encounter, Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen held the lead.
However, in the sixth game Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling made the better start but at 5-4 the advantage was down to one point; Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling called “Time Out”. Just as in the previous game, the break had worked for Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen, so the pause proved fruitful for Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling; a decisive seventh game beckoned.
At the change of ends, the marginal advantage was with Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen, they led 5-4; immediately Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling levelled. Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen moved ahead 7-5 but the next three points all went to Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling.
One point in arrears, Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen secured the next three points; at 10-8 they held two match points; the first was saved not the second, at last for Ding Ning, at last the Women’s Doubles title.