Chen Qi wins Japan Open

His first ever ITTF Pro Tour Menís Singles title

ITTF Press Release

CHEN Qi withstood a spirited fight back by Chinese Taipeiís CHUAN Chih-Yuan to win the Menís Singles title at the Volkswagen Open in Kobe, Japan. The twenty year old Chinese star won the first three games and held match point in the fourth before his opponent won the next three to force a seventh game. CHEN Qi eventually won the decisive game to secure his first ever ITTF Pro Tour Menís Singles title.

It was the fourth time that CHEN Qi and CHUAN Chih-Yuan had met in international competition and on all previous encounters the Chinese left hander had emerged victorious. One year ago in Singapore he had won at the quarter-final stage of the Menís Singles, in November 2003 he had been successful in the semi-finals in Sweden, winning both encounters in straight games. However, when the pair met at the Singapore Open earlier in 2004 it had been a much closer affair, CHEN Qi winning a quarter-final contest that went the full seven games distance.

In the Kobe Central Gymnasium he started as though he would repeat the scorelines of one year earlier; he won the first game 11-4 in rapid fire style and although tested more in the second maintained his form to go two games to nil ahead; an outrageous backhand topspin ending the second game.

CHEN Qi, looked for his forehand topspin whenever possible but he always played the stroke under control, varying the degrees of topspin to maintain the pressure on his adversary. The first three games were one way traffic. CHEN I, as he had been against KONG Linghui, was too fast, too consistent and too dominant with the first attacking strokes.

The fourth game started as the others. CHEN Qi in the fast lane, he attacked quickly from both wings, he took risks and started to make some errors. CHUAN Chih Yuan established a 6-4 lead but the Chinese star never let him gain more than a two point advantage and recovered to lead 8-7, CHUAN Chih-Yuan won the next two points but another razor sharp CHEN Qi forehand levelled matters, he then won the next point and was thus on the verge of the title

CHUAN Chih-Yuan never relented; he played positively, won the next three points and thus the game; in the fifth he blocked supremely well and established a 5-1 lead. CHEN Qi recovered to level at 6-all but was less confident. CHUAN Chih-Yuan was rejuvenated, he was now the more positive player and he duly won the game 11-6, the deficit was now just one game. There were questions in CHEN Qiís mind. CHUAN Chih-Yuan raced into an early lead in the sixth game and it was his turn to play outrageous strokes, a backhand across court at 5-0 ahead was of monumental proportions. He won the next four points before CHEN Qi responded eventually wining the game 9-4.

Therefore, having had match point in the fourth game CHEN Qi now faced a deciding seventh game and the pendulum had seemingly swung in favour of CHUAN Chih-Yuan. The Chinese Taipei player won the first three points of the decisive seventh game, CHEN Qi called `Time Outí, then promptly lost the next point; his mental resolve was being tested to the full. It was now his turn to stage a fight back, to his credit he recovered and won the vital game to take the title in a match he was on the verge of winning three games earlier.

`Perhaps I played too well at the start I didnít feel under any threat,í said a somewhat relieved CHEN Qi. `I felt relaxed, I really wanted to win in four straight games; in the seventh when I was behind I had to do something different; I tried different services; I nearly gave up but I knew I had to keep trying.í

A year ago he was unknown, now he is a champion. `There are different pressures on me nowí, he added. `Especially, after the Menís Doubles gold in Athens, many autographs to sign, photos to be taken, and I want to please everyone!í

Pressure and top class sport go together, it was a tough test in Kobe, he had to withstand a pressure situation, there were moments of crisis but eventually he came through and now has a Menís Singles title on the ITTF Pro Tour to add to the Menís Doubles titles won previously with MA Lin.

CHEN Qi (CHN) bt CHUAN Chih-Yuan (TPE) 11-4, 11-8, 11-4, 10-12, 6-11, 9-4, 11-9

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