China’s 21 year old MA Long and 27 year old GUO Yan won the respective Women’s Singles title at the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals in the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macao on Sunday 10th January 2010 and in so doing created a moment of history.
It was the first time in the 14 year history of the competition that both the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles titles have been retained.
WANG Liqin and ZHANG Yining, Chinese most successful players on the ITTF Pro Tour, had both won consecutive singles titles at the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals but never had both titles had been retained.
ZHANG Yining won in 2005 and 2006; whilst WANG Liqin succeeded in 1998 and 2000.
Furthermore, it was the first time the event had been staged in the same venue in consecutive years; for MA Long and GUO Yan, Macao must now be a favourite destination.
MA Long was in devastating form beating colleagues ZHANG Jike and XU Xin on the final day of action to clinch gold; in both contests MA Long won in six games playing with greater confidence as the duels progressed.
However, for GUO Yan it was life on a knife-edge.
No great problems in the semi-finals where she accounted for Korea’s KIM Kyung Ah in straight games but in the final she had to save one match point before recovering to secure victory.
Trailing by three games to two and in arrears at 9-10 in the sixth game, after a long rally, she executed a topspin stroke that clipped both the net and the edge of the table, simply impossible to return; then at 12-11, again she played a topspin that clipped the net and left DING Ning stranded.
It is by such miniscule margins that results are determined and the fortune in the sixth game was the first element of luck for the eventual champion; all other nets and edges had gone in favour of DING Ning.
Such is sport.
Women’s Singles Semi-Finals
GUO Yan (CHN) bt Kim Kyung Ah (KOR) 11-6, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7
DING Ning (CHN) bt FENG Tianwei (SIN) 11-1, 6-11, 4-11, 11-2, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8
Women’s Singles Final
GUO Yan (CHN) bt DING Ning (CHN) 3-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-4, 2-11, 13-11, 11-9
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images