by Ian Marshall, Editor
The no.2 seed, at the final hurdle Fan Zhendong beat compatriot Ma Long, the no.4 seed, in five games (11-7, 16-14, 11-7, 4-11, 4-11, 11-6) to regain the title won in 2017 when the tournament was staged in Astana.
Furthermore, there was a degree of revenge for Fan Zhendong, at the Grand Finals in 2015 in Lisbon and the following year in Doha, he had been beaten by Ma Long in the final.
Success for Fan Zhendong came after earlier in the day he had partnered Xu Xin to men’s doubles gold in opposition to Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting and Lin Yun-Ju, the no.7 seeds (11-7, 11-6, 11-13, 11-2).
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly for Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, the no.2 seeds, especially having been crowned world champions in 2017 in Düsseldorf, it was the first team either together or apart they had ever appeared in an ITTF World Tour Grand Finals men’s doubles gold medal contest.
Three in a row
Impressive from Fan Zhendong, it was the same from Chen Meng; the no.3 seed, she beat compatriot Wang Manyu, the no.4 seed, to don the women’s singles crown. She prevailed in five games (11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6) and thus won the title for the third consecutive year.
Previously she had won in 2017 in Astana and last year in Incheon; it means that she matches the record of team mate, Liu Shiwen, who succeeded in London in 2011, in 2012 in Hangzhou and in 2013 in Dubai.
Both Chen Meng and Liu Shiwen are now just one short of the overall most successful; also from China, Zhang Yining won in 1999 in Kobe, in 2002 in Stockholm; then later in 2005 in Fuzhou and the following year in Hong Kong.
Gold for players with experience; there was also gold for the youngest players on duty in Zhengzhou.
Japan’s Miyuu Kihara, 15 years old and Miyu Nagasaki, 17 years of age, the top seeds, won the women’s doubles title. At the final hurdle they beat Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, the no.2 seeds (12-10, 11-6, 11-6).
Comprehensive from Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki, it was their fourth major title in a period of less than four months. In early September they won at the Asian Junior Championships in Ulaanbaator, in November on the ITTF World Tour in Austria; then on the first day of December at the NSDF World Junior Championships in Korat.
The 2020 ITTF World Tour commences in the German city of Magdeburg with qualification on Tuesday 28th January, the main draw on Thursday 30th January.