by Simon Daish
Ding Song vs Johnny Huang (Men’s Singles: Final – 1997)
We start off our list with a throwback to 1997 and the second edition of the ITTF Pro (World) Tour Australian Open.
China’s Ding Song and Canada’s Johnny Huang were the final two players left standing in the men’s singles draw and would go on to meet face-to-face in close-fought contest. Using short pimple rubbers on both sides of his racket, Huang often held the upper hand against defensive specialists but on this occasion, he lost out. Ding made full use of his defensive capabilities, in addition to his deadly forehand topspin, to prevail 3-2 (22-20, 8-21, 19-21, 21-10, 21-8).
Chen Jing vs Sun Jin (Women’s Singles: Final – 1999)
The 1999 women’s singles final proved a fascinating watch as Seoul 1988 Olympic champion Chen Jing took on up-and-coming star Sun Jin.
Youth on her side and plenty of excitement surrounding her progress China was expecting Sun to earn another big win on the international stage and she made a promising start to the final. But, Chen was ready to spoil the party, claiming three consecutive games to lift the trophy (15-21, 21-19, 21-14, 21-19). Chen returned to Australia for the 1999 ITTF Pro (World) Tour Grand Finals, adding another gold to her collection.
Vladimir Samsonov vs Simon Gauzy (Men’s Singles: Final – 2017)
Chasing a record 27th ITTF World Tour men’s singles title at the time and seeking to become the first player to win a tournament in every continent, Vladimir Samsonov was a man on a mission at the 2017 Australian Open.
Samsonov faced a tough prospect at the final hurdle with Frenchman Simon Gauzy standing in his way. Reaching his first-ever World Tour singles final, Gauzy had performed admirably in the lead up to the final but it wasn’t to be his day as Samsonov posted a milestone win (11-13, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8). Ma Long has since surpassed Samsonov’s record number of titles, however, Friday 7th July 2017 is a date that will live long in the memory for the Belarusian legend.
Liu Shiwen vs Ding Ning (Women’s Singles: Final – 2018)
One year later we witnessed an epic seven-game marathon encounter in the women’s singles final as two of China’s best in Liu Shiwen and Ding Ning battled it out for glory.
Filled with twists and turns throughout, spectators were treated to table tennis of the highest quality from both players. Down 2-0 on the scoreboard, Ding then turned the momentum in her favour to edge in front. Liu didn’t let her head drop, fighting to the very end to secure a dramatic 4-3 victory in Geelong (11-5, 11-7, 3-11, 5-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6).
Lee Sangsu/Jeon Jihee vs Lim Jonghoon/Yang Haeun (Mixed Doubles: Final – 2018)
Finally, we round things off with another full distance tie from the 2018 Australian Open which saw two pairs from Korea Republic face off for the mixed doubles crown.
Nine days prior to the final, Lim Jonghoon and Yang Haeun struck victory over Lee Sangsu and Jeon Jihee at the 2018 Korea Open and destiny looked to be repeating itself as Lim and Yang won two of the opening three games against their colleagues in Geelong. However, Lee and Jeon remained strong in the face of adversity, coming out on top 3-2 (6-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8) to claim their revenge.