by Ian Marshall, Editor
Success but look back, each almost departed three days earlier in the opening round when facing Korea Republic adversaries!
Xu Xin had needed the full seven games to beat An Jaehyun (11-4, 9-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-3); Chen Meng had been on the brink of defeat in the sixth game in opposition to Suh Hyowon (12-14, 11-5, 10-12, 7-11, 11-7, 15-13, 11-4).
On the concluding day of play it was very different, five points to note………….
Third time lucky for Xu Xin
An imperious performance by Xu Xin, the top seed; facing compatriots, after beating Lin Gaoyuan, the no.4 seed, in straight games (11-6, 11-6, 11-4, 11-8), he repeated the performance in the final against Ma Long, the no.3 seed (15-13, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5).
Thus it was third time successful for Xu Xin; on both occasions in Bremen, he was the runner up in 2018 when losing to Ma Long, same again the following year when beaten by Fan Zhendong.
It was the 40th time that Xu Xin had appeared in an ITTF World Tour men’s singles final, the 18th time he had emerged successful.
Elevated to the top spot on the world rankings last June, Chen Meng more than justified her status; following a semi-final success again Zhu Yuling, the no.5 seed (12-10, 11-2, 11-8, 15-13), she repeated her oustanding form to secure the title at the expense of Ding Ning, the no.7 seed (3-11, 11-1, 11-7, 11-3, 11-1).
Notably on the ITTF World Tour, it was the fifth consecutive win for Chen Meng in opposition to Ding Ning; in 2019 she beat Ding Ning in Hungary, China, the Korea Republic and Sweden. Furthermore, it was the second time she has won in Germany, the one previous occasion 2017, also in Magdeburg.
It was the 17th time Chen Meng had appeared in an ITTF World Tour women’s singles final; most impressively the 14th time she has won.
Best performance for two years
A semi-final defeat for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.10 seed, at the hands of China’s Ma Long, the no.3 seed (11-3, 11-9, 11-13, 13-15, 11-3, 11-6) but was it not the best performance from the now 31 year old for over two years in his favourite destination?
The last time he won an ITTF World Tour men’s singles title was in Magdeburg in 2017, soon after he was the runner up at the Grand Finals in Astana and started 2018 in top spot on the world rankings.
Last year he succeeded at the CCB Europe Top 16 and was the runner up on the ITTF World Tour in the Czech Republic but his performance in Magdeburg exceeds those efforts. Having beaten Fan Zhendong in the semi-finals yesterday (9-11, 11-4, 8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-5, 12-10), life bodes well in Olympic year.
Never in Magdeburg
The most successful player at an ITTF World Tour tournament in Germany, having won the men’s singles title on five occasions, Magdeburg is not the happiest of hunting grounds for Ma Long. He prefers cities that start with the letter ‘B’; he has won twice in Berlin, three times in Bremen.
However, Magdeburg is a special place for Ma Long; it is the city in which he reached his first ever ITTF World Tour men’s singles final. In 2005, he finished in runners up spot; he was beaten by Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus.
Overall Ma Long has now played in 42 men’s singles finals on the ITTF World Tour; it is the 14th time he has finished in the runners up position. Notably both Ma Long and Xu Xin won their first ever ITTF World Tour men’s singles titles in Kuwait; Ma Long in 2007, Xu Xin three years later, over a decade of success.
A place in the final for Ding Ning but again runners up spot and as last year in the Korea Republic beaten by Chen Meng in the final; it is now some 18 months since Ding Ning, who has gained all the major accolades the sport has to offer, has won an ITTF World Tour women’s singles title.
The most recent success was in August 2018 when she won in Bulgaria.
Ding Ning has now appeared in a total of 30 ITTF World Tour women’s singles final; it is parity, 15 times the winner, 15 times the runner up.