by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
A quick start an early advantage in all three games, with Wang Hao sitting courtside masterminding proceedings, the Chinese duo never relinquished their grip on the contest.
They provided far too fast for the Belarus duo, not necessary with their footwork but with the speed of their first attack, especially when playing over the table.
At 10-3 in the third game Fan Zhendong and Yu Ziyang held match point, Pavel Platonov and Vladimir Samsonov retreated to the back of court as exhibition mode took precedence; the Chinese duo responded to the gesture, somewhat fortunately the Belarus duo won the point. They did not win the next.
“We did not really a specific plan for the match other then playing our game at the highest level possible. We had a great start winning then first game so we could put more and more pressure on them. They could not adapt to our game.” Yu Ziyang
“We had a great tournament here in Budapest, happy with the silver medal obviously; if we had made a little bit better start then it could have been different but they proved to be a bit too strong today. Congratulations to them.” Pavel Platonov
Entering the final, having been present in the very first year of the ITTF World Tour in 1996, Vladimir Samsonov, now 41 years old, was by far the most experienced player on duty, the most successful of the quartet in the doubles arena was the young man at the opposite end of the table, some 20 years the junior.
It was for Fan Zhendong, his ninth appearance in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles final, his fifth partner, his fifth win; Stockholm and Chengdu being very much his favourite haunts.
In 2014, with Xu Xin he was the runner up in Stockholm, one year later with Zhang Jike he suffered the same fate before reuniting with Xu Xin to win last year. In Chengdu, in 2014 he partnered Ma Long to success, prior repeating the feat with Xu Xin the following year, before in 2016, again with Xu Xin, having to settle for second place.
Six finals, the two further title deciders were in 2015 in Kobe when in harness with Shang Kun, he had to settle for the silver medal and in 2016 in Doha when successful in partnership for Zhang Jike.
Perhaps surprisingly, for Vladimir Samsonov, he had appeared in only two previous ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles finals, he had won in Austria in 1997 with Jörg Rosskopf before two years later finishing in runners up spot with Zoran Primorac in Croatia.
For both Yu Ziyang and Pavel Platonov it was their first ever ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles final.
Impressively, in was the 123 time in a possible 298 finals, that a Chinese pair had secured the Men’s Doubles title at an ITTF World Tour tournament.