by Simon Daish
The day’s action began with the Women’s Doubles final as the top seeded partnership of Hina Hayata and Mima Ito met Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling.
Japan’s Hina Hayata and Mima Ito emerged victorious over the Chinese pairing in their previous encounter at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open and were in with a real chance of leaving Kazakhstan with silverware.
However, a fantastic effort from Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling resulted in the opposite outcome with the second seeds claiming a clean sweep win (11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9) to lift the trophy.
Arguably the most dramatic final of the day came in the Men’s Doubles draw as Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima pulled off a terrific comeback victory to regain the title.
Trailing Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Ho Kwan Kit by three games to two the Japanese combination held their nerve, picking up the following two games in deuce to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat (11-7, 6-11, 6-11, 12-10, 9-11, 12-10, 12-10).
Chen Meng has enjoyed a solid outing in Astana, guaranteeing her place at the top of the women’s world rankings table on day three of the tournament and one day later the 23-year-old ended her year on another positive note with her gold medal win in the Women’s Singles event.
The contest was expected to be close with fellow compatriot Zhu Yuling providing the opposition in the final, but truth be told the outgoing World no.1 never really found her footing in the match and in the end Chen Meng cruised through the tie (11-6, 11-3, 11-6, 12-10) to earn her first Women’s Singles trophy on the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals stage.
Rounding off the concluding day’s programme was the Men’s Singles final as Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Fan Zhendong battled it out for the top step of the medals podium.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov will lead the men’s world rankings as of Monday 1st January but the German star just missed out on a dream finish to the year, suffering a straight games defeat to Fan Zhendong (11-7, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10) who becomes the eighth athlete from China to win the prestigious trophy.