by Ian Marshall, Editor
A series of firsts and very much unique experiences; such was the scenario. It remains to this day, the only occasion when the Men’s Singles final has been an all European affair, with no Asian player in sight.
Also it is the only time when the Women’s Doubles winners comprised players not representing an Asian country and the first time a pair from Asia did not win the Men’s Doubles title.
Germany’s Timo Boll won the Men’s Singles title beating Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive in the final (11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5), having one round earlier ousted Korea Republic’s Ryu Seungmin (11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-8). In the counterpart penultimate round duel, Jean-Michel Saive had overcome Oh Sangeun (11-13, 13-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-3), also from the Korea Republic.
Meanwhile, in the Women’s Doubles competition, the combination of Gao Jun from the United States and Spain’s Shen Yanfei had struck gold. After recording a semi-final win in opposition to Singapore’s Sun Bei Bei and Wang Yue Gu (11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-9), they accounted for Korea Republic’s Kim Bokrae and Kim Kyungah (11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-3).
Success in the Men’s Singles event for Timo Boll; in addition in the Men’s Doubles competition, he partnered colleague Christian Süss to success. After overcoming Hong Kong’s Ko Lai Chak and Li Ching in the penultimate round (11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 3-11, 12-14, 11-6, 13-11), they beat Oh Sangeun and colleague Lee Jungwoo to reserve the top step of the podium (11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8).
Later in 2009 in Macao, Timo Boll and Christian Süss repeated the success; they are the only pair not from Asia ever to win the Men’s Doubles title at an ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
Now in 2018 the task of emulating Timo Boll and Christian Süss rests on Hungarian shoulders; those of Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi, the replacements for China’s Ma Long and Xu Xin, the former withdrawing through injury. In the Mixed Doubles Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova are the only pair not from Asia. Both are the no.8 seeds.