ITTF Pro Tour Finals Dominated by China

ITTF Press Release

Nobody could stop the Chinese

Stockholm, Sweden, 14 December 2002. Like the Women’s Singles final also the Women’s Doubles final on Sunday will be a Chinese matter. Neither LEE Eun Sil/SUK Eun Mi (KOR) nor Singaporeans LI Jia Wei/JING Jun Hong could prevent the strong Chinese pairs to proceed.
LEE and SUK were up against NIU Jianfeng/LI Jia who have already taken a few Pro Tour titles and the Koreans only managed to win a single game.

LI Jia Wei/JING Jun Hong couldn’t go that far. They lost 4-0 to ZHANG Yining/LI Nan.
The 2 Chinese pairs have met once before this year. In the semi-finals at the Qatar Open LI Jia/NIU Jianfeng won 4-1. Eventually the Chinese took the title in Qatar beating the North Koreans KIM Hyon Hui/KIM Hyang Mi in the final.

Extra money to the best

Stockholm, Sweden, 15 December 2002. The total prize money of the Grand Finals is 240.000 US Dollars but there was extra money distributed on Saturday.
The best 3 players on the Pro Tour Standings were rewarded at a ceremony in Eriksdalshallen, and the ITTF President Mr. Adham Sharara handed over prize money to those who have been the best during 2002.

5000 to nr. 1, 3000 to nr. 2 and 2000 to nr. 3 in both Men’s and Women’s Singles.

In Men’s Singles MA Lin (CHN), Werner SCHLAGER (AUT) and Jean-Michel SAIVE (BEL) were the ones to receive a “Christmas present”. In Women’s Singles ZHANG Yining, LI Nan and NIU Jianfeng were rewarded.

The players who participated in the most number of Pro Tour events were also rewarded – Toshio Tasaki (JPN) played all Pro Tour events in 2002. In Women’s Singles Japanese Reiko HIURA and Ai FUJINUMA shared the prize – they only missed one Pro Tour event.

Chinese were too strong

Stockholm, Sweden, 15 December 2002. Akira KITO and Toshio TASAKI (JPN) surprisingly reached the final in Stockholm, but they could not take the last step against the top seeds MA Lin and KONG Linghui. The Japanese never came close. MA and KONG were just too solid and too strong for them.

KITO and TASAKI had the chance in the 3rd game getting 2 games points, but they couldn’t take it and instead the Chinese won 15-13 – to take the 4th as well, 11-7.
KONG has been paired with MA after his partner for many years LIU Guoliang has stopped his career. MA and KONG have not played much together but they are already forming a World class pair.

“MA is the perfect partner for me. I won a lot with LIU but you can’t say that I miss him. First of all he is now a coach so I still see him, but second he had difficulties with the new bigger ball. I think that for the future MA is a very good partner”, says KONG Linghui.

During the press conference MA was holding the winners check of 10.000 US Dollars. Therefore he was asked how they would share the money.

“We will have a fight over the check”, MA said laughing. He was of course disappointed that he stumbled in singles, but luckily for him the consolation came in doubles.

CHUAN out on top

Stockholm, Sweden, 15 December 2002. Two years ago young CHUAN Chi-Yuan was nr. 38 in the World. He decided to do something about it, and he travelled to almost each and every Pro Tour event around the World. On Sunday he won the most prestigious event of them all, the Grand Finals, beating Kalinikos KREANGA (GRE) in the final.

CHUAN already lost 3 Pro Tour finals this year, one of them in Qatar to Jean-Michel SAIVE (BEL) whom he beat in the quarter finals, the 2nd one at the Dutch Open to WANG Hao (CHN) whom he beat in the semi-finals – and the 3rd in Japan where he lost to Greek Kalinikos KREANGA – whom he beat eventually in the Grand Final.
You can say for sure that CHUAN learned from his defeats!!

CHUAN started out best taking the lead 2-0. KREANGA had difficulties matching CHUAN’s speed and CHUAN also had a few good opportunities to win the 3rd. KREANGA took it however and eventually evened at 2-2.

The two finalists also went to 3-3 and the 7th was close as well. CHUAN however proved to have gained experience from the previous finals. He did not lose his focus and he got himself 4 match points at 10-6. He took the 2nd to win the final and the first prize of 38.000 US Dollars.

“When KREANGA came back from 0-2 I started to think about the previous finals that I lost. Luckily in the 5th game I found my road again, and after that I was not that nervous”, says CHUAN who already years ago made his goal clear. He wanted to be in the top 4 in the World.

“The difference was very small. CHUAN started out best, and the energy I spent coming back to 2-2 cost me later in the match”, says Kalinikos KREANGA who in spite of the defeat can look back on an excellent year, winning his first Pro Tour title in Japan and reaching the “big final”.

Chinese - again

Stockholm, Sweden, 15 December 2002. The Chinese have been very dominant in the Women’s events at the Pro Tour Grand Finals. The singles semi-finals were a Chinese matter and so was the Women’s Doubles final.

The two Chinese pairs however put up a good fight. LI Jia/NIU Jianfeng won 4-0 but it did not come easy. All games were close but all the time with LI Jia/NIU Jianfeng one step ahead.
Perhaps ZHANG Yining had lost a little focus after her win in the Women’s Singles – anyway she did not succeed in getting the doubles title as well.

ZHANG can however go home and wait for the new World Ranking which will make her nr. 1 in the World.

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