by Ian Marshall, Editor
Simply, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again; for no player was that more true than at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in 2002 in the Swedish capital of city of Stockholm, when on Sunday 15th December, Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan won the Men’s Singles event.
He played more games than any other to win the Men’s Singles event, overall 27 just one short of the maximum for four matches. Moreover, prior to the tournament, he had never won on the ITTF World Tour; he remains to this day the only player to have achieved that feat.
In 2002 he ended the year in the no.5 spot on the Standings; in Stockholm he beat China’s Kong Linghui in the opening round, the incumbent Olympic champion (7-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-6, 10-12, 9-11, 11-7), before overcoming Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive (11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10) and China’s Wang Hao (8-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 11-8) to reserve his place in the final where he met Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece.
A full distance duel, at 3-all in the seventh game it was parity, playing with growing confidence he established a 10-6 lead, at the first attempt he converted (11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 10-12, 11-1, 7-11, 11-6).
Prior the gathering in Stockholm, during the year he had reached three ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles finals, in Eindhoven he had lost to China’s Wang Hao, significantly in Qatar he had been beaten by Jean-Michel Saive, even more significantly in Japan, he had suffered at the hands of Kalinikos Kreanga!
In Incheon can anyone match the feat of Chuang Chih-Yuan in Stockholm by winning the Grand Finals title before winning on the Tour? There are two possibilities, Germany’s Patrick Franziska and the host nation’s Lim Jonghoon.