by Ian Marshall, Editor
At the final hurdle she beat Japan’s Mima Ito in five games (3-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7).
The top seed, she was expected to win against the no.3 seed but Mima Ito was in a rich vein of form; at the semi-final stage she had overwhelmed China’s Ding Ning, the no.6 seed (11-6, 14-12, 11-0, 11-5), arguably the greatest female player of the past decade.
At the final hurdle it was from Chen Meng a command performance; in fact throughout the whole tournament it was a command performance. No player was able to extended her the full distance; overall she surrendered a total of just four games.
In the opening round she beat Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto (13-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4), before proceeding to overcome Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.12 seed (11-7, 11-6, 11-2, 11-7) and colleague Wang Yidi, the no.11 seed (11-5, 11-8, 13-15, 11-6, 11-6). A place in the penultimate round reserved, she ended the hopes of the defending champion, also from China, Wang Manyu, the no.4 seed (10-12,11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5, 11-4).
Impressive in the short term and also in the longer term; the last time she lost a women’s singles match on the international stage was on Saturday 11th October when she was soundly beaten in the second round at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open by Singapore’s Feng Tianwei (11-6, 11-2, 11-4, 11-8).
It means that when she wakes up on Monday morning she will have gone 150 days without defeat.
Prior to losing in Germany she had won in Sweden; her immediate prior loss to that being in Yokyakarta, when on Saturday 21st September at the 2019 ITTF Asian Championships, she had experienced a semi-final defeat at the hands of colleague Liu Shiwen.
Thus on Monday it is 170 days with just one defeat.
Now add the performances against Mima Ito to the equation, the major rival to Chinese hegemony, she is the one member of national team elite who has never lost to the Japanese teenager.
In Doha she made it four in a row; all on the ITTF World Tour, she succeeded in the Grand Finals in Lisbon; then last year in Sweden and again at the Grand Finals.
Furthermore, she has held top spot on the women’s world rankings since June 2019, a total of 10 consecutive publications, having first ascended to the top of the order in January 2018.
Overall since that date she has appeared in the no.1 spot on 15 occasions, by prevailing in Qatar, the exact same number of women’s singles titles she has now won on the ITTF World Tour.
It is a success story that started in 2012 when she beat Korea Republic’s Seok Hajung in the final; the city Doha, the tournament the Qatar Open; déjà vu.