by James Francis
The finals, witnessed by a capacity crowd at the Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion in Macao, were decided by best of nine games – one of many innovations on display at WTT Macao.
Offering a first glimpse into the future of the sport, the WTT Macao proof-of-concept showcased a thrilling, original playing format with 32 of the world’s biggest table tennis stars (16 in men’s singles and 16 in women’s singles) battling it out in brand-new WTT surrounds.
The prize money was an equal pot for both men and women and was distributed based on performance. The tournament provided an opportunity for players, fans and media to experience a taste of what to expect when WTT launches its first annual calendar of events in 2021.
The Dragon roars in Macao!
Ma Long’s pedigree on the world stage is unquestioned. The reigning World and Olympic champion took gold last Sunday at the ITTF Finals in Zhengzhou, China.
In Macao, Ma Long opened his campaign in the Top Four Seed Battle with a win against Lin Gaoyuan (3-5, 5-2, 5-2, 5-2) and defeat to Xu Xin (5-1, 2-5, 4-5, 5-3, 2-5) – matches decided by best of five games, each game to five points.
“The Dragon” roared back with victories over Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik in the quarterfinals (11-8, 11-7, 10-11, 9-11, 11-5), before his second success of the event against Lin Gaoyuan (11-5, 11-10, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3) paved the way to a final showdown against Wang Chuqin. Ma Long’s gold medal haul also sees him take home USD 72,500 in prize money.
“Winning the ITTF Finals in Zhengzhou helped me to gain lots of confidence heading into this event. I have never lost a match in Macao: this is my lucky place! Having won here in 2008, 2009 and 2012, it feels great to be here again with the trophy. WTT Macao put players at centre-stage. It drew audiences’ attention onto the match and players themselves, which is important for a brand-new competition.” – Ma Long
Wang Chuqin comes of age
Heading into the final, Wang Chuqin had won two of his three encounters against Ma. The Chinese 20-year-old star also had the added incentive of earning an “undefeated champion bonus” of USD 10,000.
Unbeaten and highly impressive in his previous rounds, Wang Chuqin reached the final with victory over Sweden’s Mattias Falck, no.6 seed, in straight games (11-3, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7). That followed his quarterfinal win over Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, no.4 seed (11-10, 8-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-9). Whilst defeat to Ma Long in the final ended Wang Chuqin’s hopes of glory and a bonus reward, he took home silver and USD 50,000 for his efforts.
Sun Yingsha ends week in style
Sun Yingsha’s road to the women’s title in Macao was far from straightforward. In the Top Four Seed Battle, she lost to both Wang Manyu, no.3 seed (3-5, 5-1, 5-2, 3-5, 3-5) and Ding Ning, no.2 seed (1-5, 2-5, 5-1, 2-5).
That meant that Sun was the only women’s player from the Top Four Seed Battle who did not have the opportunity to choose her opponent in the next round. In the quarterfinals, she defeated Wang Yidi, no.7 seed (11-6, 10-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-9), before crossing paths once more with Wang Manyu. In an epic semifinal, Sun showed immense spirit to recover from a three-games to one deficit (8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 2-11, 11-7, 11-10, 12-10) to reach the final. Against Chen Xingtong, Sun rarely put a foot wrong, the 20-year-old having grown in stature. She got her hands on gold and USD 70,000 in prize money.
“I did not play too well in the early stages of WTT Macao, so in this final I told myself to enjoy the match, no matter how many difficulties faced, and to do myself proud. Chen Xingtong has made plenty of progress this year and I can learn from her in terms of her patience and ability to not make unforced errors.” – Sun Yingsha
Chen Xingtong “Comeback Queen” lights up Macao
A silver medallist in Macao, Chen Xingtong completed arguably the two greatest comeback victories of the entire week. In the quarterfinals, she upset Ding Ning (10-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 14-12). The reigning Olympic champion had chosen to play against Chen as her opponent in the preceding draw.
In the next round, the 23-year-old ousted the world no.1 Chen Meng, who had scooped gold medals earlier in the month at both the Dishang Women’s World Cup and Bank of Communications ITTF Finals. After losing the first three games of her semifinal, Chen Xingtong reeled off the next four to complete a stunning victory (10-11, 1-11, 7-11, 11-10, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7).
With her unbeaten run ended by Sun Yingsha, Chen Xingtong ends the week with earnings of USD 50,000 and countless fond memories shared with fans around the world.