27 Apr 2019

As anticipated the penultimate day at the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships was exhilarating from start to finish with two gold medal contests and more history being made on Day Seven.

Here are the 5 things we learnt:

by Simon Daish

Ma Long is a great mentor

The day opened with an excellent final in the men’s doubles competition as China’s Ma Long and Wang Chuqin emerged victorious against the mixed association pair of Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Spain’s Alvaro Robles 4-1 (11-3, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5), whose fantastic run saw them become the first European men’s doubles silver medallists since 2005!

Following the conclusion of the match Wang Chuqin, 18, hailed his partner Ma Long as an excellent mentor:

“I gained a lot from playing the doubles with Ma Long. I learned from his attitude. I enjoyed playing with him because he encouraged me even when I made mistakes, it took my mind away from any mistakes. He also offers advice while playing. I am so excited with this title in my first World Championships and I hope to celebrate it in my own way when I am alone.” Wang Chuqin

Persistence pays off

Runner up to Li Xiaoxia in 2013 and Ding Ning in 2015 but at the third attempt Liu Shiwen finally achieved one of her lifelong goals at the 2019 World Championships, claiming the title of women’s singles World champion!

Showing great composure at the final hurdle, no.4 seed Liu Shiwen recovered from a game down and sat level with second seed Chen Meng by the conclusion of game four. Liu produced a sensational display in the following game, negotiating it without dropping a single point before completing the job in game six to emerge victorious by a 4-2 score-line (9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-0, 11-9).

Emotional scenes followed the final point as the realisation of the incredible achievement began to sink in for Liu Shiwen:

Slaying the Dragon will take a mighty effort

Ma Long will compete in the men’s singles final for the third World Championships in a row after the “Dragon” came out on top in his semi-final encounter against fellow Chinese star Liang Jingkun.

A tense affair but Ma Long, seeded 11th, ultimately held the edge, prevailing over no.9 seed Liang Jingkun 4-1 (11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 14-12) to keep his title defence campaign alive for another day.

Mattias Falck can deal with the biggest of pressures

Joining the reigning champion in the men’s singles final is Sweden’s Mattias Falck, who demonstrated that he can cope with all the pressures associated with being in a World Championships semi-final on Day Seven.

Trailing 1-2 the no.16 seed Mattias Falck fought back to see off a noble effort from 19-year-old Korean qualifier An Jaehyun (8-11, 11-7, 3-11, 11-4, 11-9, 2-11, 11-5), becoming the first Swedish player to reach the final in 22 years and the first European to achieve the feat since 2003!

Patience can be your best ally

Sometimes a little patience can go a long way and that was most certainly the case in the first semi-final match of the women’s doubles event as Hina Hayata and Mima Ito met the defensive combination of Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato.

Third seeds Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato have found great success in recent years courtesy of their preference for a slower but more consistent approach. However, top seeds Hina Hayata and Mima Ito remained calm, showing great patience in their build-up play before picking the right shots to kill off and ultimately were rewarded with a spot in the final (11-9, 10-12, 14-16, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7).

Hina Hayata and Mima Ito showed great patience (Photo: Rémy Gros)

In the other fixture Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu, seeded second, claimed an impressive 4-3 victory over the more experienced pair of Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling (11-3, 11-9, 9-11, 6-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5).

2019 World Table Tennis Championships ma long Mima Ito Chen Meng liu shiwen Wang Manyu Sun Yingsha Hina Hayata Mattias Falck

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Day 8 - 2019 World Table Tennis Championships

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