(by Steve Hopkins)
The World Table Tennis Championships has now concluded. A great event and a true positive for Houston (and the USA) as host.
Fan Zhendong was the clear favorite and he didn’t disappoint. 4-0, 4-0, 4-2, 4-1, 4-1, and 4-0 is a dominant performance for any event. Fan also topped three teammates (Wang Chuqin, Lin Gaoyuan, and Liang Jingkun) and Finalist Truls Moregard along the way. Some great shots in the Final, but Fan controlled the match from the start (as the 4-0 score indicates).
The surprise Men’s Singles Finalist was Sweden’s Truls Moregard. Unlike, Fan, Truls fought his way through the draw winning his opening match 4-0 (but with 12-10, and 14-12), 4-3, 4-3, 4-3, 4-2, 4-3, and the 0-4 score in the Final. Truls has had mixed success in major events in the past, flashing brilliant and tricky shot-making with massive power on both side, but often playing inconsistently. He has won a Swedish championship, topping a long list of great Swedish pros, but as his World No. 76 ranking shows, he hasn’t broken through. Well, he hadn’t broken through – if he wasn’t on the World’s radar a week ago, his performance this week is certain to be noticed.
The Women’s Singles title went to Wang Manyu (World No. 4) over Sun Yingsha (World No. 2). Manyu topped Chen Meng in the previous round, so she defeated World No.1 and No. 2 in succession on her way to the title. Manyu and Yingsha teamed up to win Women’s Doubles too, a 3-0 win over Mima Ito and Hina Hayata.
Men’s Doubles was part of a One-Two Punch of Swedish Surprises this year. Korea’s Jang Woojin and Lim Jonghoon upset Japan’s Togami/Uda team 3-1 to reach the Final, but Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson and Mattias Falck took all the headlines by upsetting China’s Wang Chuqin and Fan Zhendong and then following that up the next day with an upset of China’s Lin Gaoyuan and Liang Jingkun. Falck and Karlsson’s formidable pairing (with Karlsson’s shotmaking abilities and Falck’s pip forehand creating uncomfortable pressure with pace and spin variations) proved too much for the Korean team in the Final. Falck and Karlsson log five upsets in a row to bring a World Championships Doubles Title home to Sweden.
American fans were disappointed that the pair of Lin Gaoyuan and Lily Zhang fell short of the Finals, but the US/China team scored a Bronze Medal and helped accentuate the 50th Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy. In the end, it was China who won the Mixed Doubles Event. Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha defeated the Japanese pair (Harimoto/Hayata) 3-0.
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