(by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor)
Zhu Yuling wins in Markham ends remarkable record of Liu Shiwen
The top seed, China’s Zhu Yuling, after saving one match point in the vital seventh game in the final against compatriot and no.2 seed, Liu Shiwen emerged the winner at the Uncle Pop 2017 ITTF Women’s World Cup presented by Polar Naturals in Markham on the evening of Sunday 29th October.
In one of the most dramatic finals in the history of the competition, Zhu Yuling prevailed in a tension packed full distance contest (11-13, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10).
Some six week ago in the Indian city of Ahmedabad in the final of the ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup, a qualification tournament for Markham, those present had been treated to a contest of the very highest order. The rallies were fast and furious, there was no time to blink; the decision had gone in seven games in favour of Zhu Yuling (6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-13, 11-6)
In Markham, the contest was enacted in the very same mode, the sheer speed of the exchanges quite breath-taking.
Liu Shiwen captured a close first game; in the second she went ahead 5-2, maintaining the advantage to establish a two games to nil lead. Zhu Yuling responded to secure the third game but at the start of the fourth the early advantage was with Liu Shiwen. She established a 4-1 lead only to lose the next five points; she levelled at 6-all but then lost another run of points to present Zhu Yuling with a 10-6 lead. On the third game point Zhu Yuling converted to level matters.
Fast and furious but then in the fifth game drama, Liu Shiwen went ahead 10-6, Zhu Yuling levelled, at 10-9 Liu Shiwen having taken a “Time Out”. The next two points went to Liu Shiwen but Zhu Yuling was adamant that the ball had clipped the edge of the table on the point which secured the game for Liu Shiwen.
Notably the reaction of each player was instantaneous. Liu Shiwen clenched her first in success, Zhu Yuling pointed to the edge believing she had heard the ball touch the playing surface. The officials were in no doubt, the point stood, it was advantage Liu Shiwen.
Immediately Zhu Yuling responded to win the sixth game, a game in which neither player held a clear advantage, matters being level at 9-all.
Similar to the contest in Ahmedabad a seventh game beckoned.
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