by Ian Marshall, Editor
Over the years Xu Xin has gained a reputation of being a somewhat slow starter, often coming back from behind to win; in the opening two games of the final that was somewhat the scenario but with different outcomes.
In the opening game he trailed 4-6, before levelling matters at 9-all and then holding the advantage at 10-9. Eventually he succeeded at his second attempt.
Similarly, in the second, he trailed 5-7, gained parity at 9-all, held game point at 10-9 before losing three in a row. Notably time and again Kenta Matsudaira, taking some risks but to his credit adopting a most positive approach, had forced Xu Xin away from the table, to some extent nullifying the long raking devastating forehand of his adversary.
Conversely, in the third game, it was Xu Xin who made the better start; he established a 5-2 lead but at 7-all it was parity. Xu Xin secured the next point and at 10-8 held two game points, he converted at the first attempt.
Securing the third game was a pivotal moment in the contest, Kenta Matsudaira gained some success playing wide to the forehand of Xu Xin but the Chinese star was now in control, he secured the second game as Kenta Matsudaira from 7-4 in arrears made a string of errors.
In the fifth game, as in the previous two, Xu Xin made the better start; he won the first two points, Kenta Matsudaira called “Time Out”. Perhaps he might have been better calling for the local electrician to turn the lights out, Xu Xin won the next six points; to his great credit Kenta Matsudaira kept fighting for the cause but self-belief was draining from the body.
Xu Xin in command, at 10-4 he held six match points, he succeeded at his first attempt.
“The desire to win today was greater than before especially after winning the Australian Open previously and getting my confidence up. My coach and all the leaders in the team have been encouraging me and I am very thankful for them.” Xu Xin
Success meant Xu Xin secured his 14th ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title; for Kenta Matsudaira it was déjà vu, for the third time in four years he was the runner up.