Now very much at the business end following Friday’s Mixed Doubles final, Day 7 saw yet more silverware lifted with the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Singles finals taking place.
For all those watching on from the HUNGEXPO Budapest and on TV screens and online from around the globe, it was another day of unforgettable table tennis action.
THIRD TIME LUCKY FOR LIU SHIWEN
In what she admitted might have been her last ever World Championships, LIU Shiwen (CHN) struck gold at the sixth time of asking in a sensational Women’s Singles showpiece final in Budapest.
The 28-year-old Chinese star had won three bronze and two silver medals in her last five outings at the individual World Table Tennis Championships and arrived in the Hungarian capital under somewhat a cloud, having not won an international title since July 2018 at the ITTF World Tour Australian Open.
By contrast, she faced one of the in-form players of recent months, CHEN Meng (CHN), the first name on Team China’s namesheet after winning the Marvellous 12 qualification competition. Her upward career trajectory had many putting the world no. 3 down as favourite against the no. 5 ranked LIU.
Even more so, when CHEN powered her way to a 1-0 lead. However, it was at that point that LIU started to raise the intensity of her game. Her quick feet and clever thinking – the hallmark of her successful career to date – saw her fight back impressively to win four of the next five games: 4-2 the final score (9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-0, 11-9).
This included the match’s remarkable fifth game, which she won 11-0, repeating the feat achieved against DING Ning (CHN) in the semi-final. To win a game by 11-0 in back-to-back final rounds of a World Championships is virtually unheard of.
While CHEN threatened to take the following and final game, LIU kept her nerve and eventually crossed over the line, breaking down in tears within seconds of the match ending. Her raw emotion showed just how much this victory meant to her.
“Ever since I became Women’s World Cup Champion at the age of 19, I have always dreamt of winning the World Championships. Since then, I missed out on the opportunity by losing two finals. I found myself doubting my ability to succeed and I even considered giving up. Therefore, I am very grateful to all those who have been supporting me all this while and my team for giving me this chance to win today. I think that I deserve this trophy, even if it has taken time.”LIU Shiwen