01 Dec 2019

Top seed and defending champion, China’s Fan Zhendong successfully retained his title at the Chengdu Airlines 2019 Men’s World Cup on Sunday 1st December.

Thus the quite incredible run of form continues, having not secured a major title for almost a year, less than two months ago, on the ITTF World Tour he won in October in Germany, in November in Austria as well as in the same month being a member of the successful team at the ZEN-NOH Team World Championships in Tokyo.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In Chengdu on the final day of play, Fan Zhendong, 22 years old, ended the endeavours of the aspiring teenage generation.

At the semi-final stage he beat Chinese Taipei’s 18 year old Lin Yun-Ju (11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5) on debut a Men’s World Cup tournament, prior to accounting for Japan’s 16 year old Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.3 seed (9-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-7).

Fourth place for Ma Long

Earlier at the semi-final stage, Tomokazu Harimoto had upset the odds by overcoming China’s Ma Long, the no.2 seed (11-6, 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 4-11, 11-5), for whom there was to be further defeat. In third place match, he suffered at the hands of Lin Yun-Ju (11-4, 13-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4).

Thus for the first time in a seventh Men’s World Cup appearance there was no place on the podium for Ma Long. In 2012 he had won in Liverpool, in 2015 in Halmstad; sandwiched in between in 2014 he was the runner up in Düsseldorf. He secured third place in 2008 in Liège, the ensuing year in Moscow before once again in 2017 in Liège having to settle for bronze.

Third time in four finals

Additionally Ma Long falls short of winning the Men’s World Cup title for a third time; for Fan Zhendong he completes the feat. On each appearance he has reached the final, he was beaten by Ma Long on debut in Halmstad before succeeding in 2016 in Saarbrücken and last year in Paris.

He now joins Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus and colleague Wang Hao who each won three times; he is now one win behind the all-time most successful Ma Lin who won four times. Furthermore, he becomes only the third player to successfully retain the title; Ma Lin achieved the feat in 2003 in Jiangyin and in 2004 in Xiaoshan, Wang Hao in 2007 in Barcelona and the following year in Liège.

Youngest ever

Meanwhile for Lin Yun-Ju, at 18 years and 105 days old he becomes the youngest player in the now 40 year history of the tournament, the event being first staged in 1980 in Hong Kong, to secure third place.

However, he is usurped by Tomokazu Harimoto, at 16 years and 157 days old, he is the youngest finalist ever; the player he beats, Fan Zhendong. He was 18 years and 269 days old, when he reached the final stage on Saturday 17th October in Halmstad.

Chengdu Airlines 2019 Men’s World Cup: Recap the day’s action in depth

World Cup 2019 Men's World Cup ma long Fan Zhendong Tomokazu Harimoto Lin Yun -Ju

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Day 3 - Chengdu Airlines 2019 ITTF Men's World Cup