(by Steve Hopkins)
The WTT Cup Finals concluded today in Xinxiang, China. It was a tournament featuring the World’s Top 16, the second week in a row with an Asian event that featured the best players in the world. Last week, in Macao, it was World No. 11 Wang Chuqin with an historic run through five Top 10 players to win. At the risk of appearing repetitive, this week at the WTT Cup Finals it is again Wang Chuqin (now World No. 7) topping four Top 10 players on his way to the title.
Wang Chuqin is table tennis’ Mr. October – dominating two of the biggest events of the Fall in consecutive weeks. In this two-week run, he has beaten World Nos. 1, 2, 2, 3, 5, 5, 6, 10, 10. When he started this run, he was World No. 11 – when the next rankings come out he should be No. 4 or 5. Has there ever been a time when a player dominated so many players ahead of him in the World Rankings? If we were to ask the question today – the best player in the world is Wang Chuqin.
The Final Four pairings were Dimitrij Ovtcharov versus Tomokazu Harimoto and Wang Chuqin versus Ma Long. Harimoto dominated in the early Semifinal match-up, winning 4-0 over Ovtcharov. It was a solid outing for Ovtcharov who spent much of this year getting back up to speed after an injury – but he could not recapture the magic he had when he defeated Fan Zhendong in the Quarterfinals. In fact, Ovtcharov was never really in the match with Harimoto.
The other pairing was Chuqin and Ma Long – a tough matchup for Ma Long. In fact, the last two times these two have faced off, it has been Chuqin that had won (Chuqin won at the WTT Champions in their Quarterfinal match-up, and Chuqin won in the Euro Star Contender over the Summer in their Semifinal match). The result was the same today – Chuqin started fast by winning the first two games, Ma Long came back to tie the match 2-2, and then Chuqin played a near perfect final game to win. In the Final, Harimoto struck first, but then Chuqin ran off three straight. The players split the final two games – giving Wang Chuqin a 4-2 win.
Both men’s and women’s table tennis are dominated by great Chinese players – but in the women’s game this dominance is more severe. Five Chinese women made it to the Final 8. Only China advanced to the Final 4. In the end, the Final was as expected – with World No. 1 Sun Yingsha topping World No. 2 Chen Meng 4-3.
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