Wang Liqin is World Champion
Second title in his career
Saturday, May 07, 2005
ITTF Press Release
Volkswagen 48th World Table Tennis Championships, Shanghai
The Women’s Doubles final had witnessed the top two seeds in action, likewise the Men’s Singles final that followed involved the players seeded one and two, WANG Liqin and MA Lin.
They are no strangers to other; understandable, they play for the same national team, China, but also they are no strangers to each other in competition. They have played each other in World Ranking events nineteen times since their first meeting in September 1998 at the Panasonic China Open when MA Lin won in four games at the semi-final stage; their most recent meeting was at the Qatar Open in February this year when WANG Liqin won to capture yet another ITTF Pro Tour crown.
WANG Liqin, once again Men's Singles champion of the World
In the `head to head` battles between the two Chinese stars WANG Liqin has won ten of their meetings, MA Lin has won nine, very close but when their meeting has been in the final then WANG Liqin has the distinct advantage; they have contested the gold medal in international Men’s Singles events nine times and WANG Liqin has won seven of those encounters.
Crowd Applauds Table Tennis
The crowd was somewhat divided as to which player they should support but they appreciated quality table tennis as they had done throughout the week. The inflated clappers greeted high class exchanges and self appointed cheer leaders in the crowd would shout the name of their favourite followed by the phrase `Jia You’ (play harder, more steam) or bi sheng (you will surely win).
It was a close opening game with a rapier like backhand of the twenty-first century variety from the penhold grip player MA Lin giving him a 7-5 advantage. However, WANG Liqin won the next two points, MA Lin levelled and it was parity at 8-all; serving WANG Liqin won the next two points, he was ahead 10-8. MA Lin saved the first but not the second game point as a WANG Liqin backhand was buried deep into his body.
Second Seed Level, Then Ahead
The second game saw MA Lin make the best start possible; he won the first seven points before WANG Liqin replied. The latter recovered somewhat with strong backhand attacking strokes but unforced errors cost him dear and MA Lin was in top gear, he won the game 11-3.
MA Lin continued his good form in the third game, playing extremely well near the net in the short touch exchanges and top spinning from the backhand he went ahead 6-0, the topspin as opposed to the speed for errors from his opponent. Quite simply MA Lin was not allowing WANG Liqin to explode his powerful forehand; his control over the table tennis ball was outstanding. WANG Liqin recovered to trail 6-9 and then somehow stretched out his forearm and outrageously returned a MA Lin rocket forehand topspin. An unforced error from MA Lin on the next point when he pushed the ball uncharacteristically into the net meant that in no time the deficit for the top seed was down to one. However, that was to be the extent of his fight back, MA Lin won the next point and was one game to the good.
In the fourth game MA Lin threatened to repeat the start he had made in the previous two but WANG Liqin responded; the situation was that if MA Lin could topspin the ball heavily early in the rally towards the WANG Liqin backhand then he had the advantage but if WANG Liqin do the same with his forehand to MA Lin’s backhand then the pendulum may well swing.
Both players concentrated on high degree of control with their first attacking stroke and MA Lin was proving the slightly more successful, establishing a 9-7 lead; he realised it was a crucial stage of the contest and decided a break was needed, he had the next two serves and took a `Time Out’. The break ironically worked in favour of WANG Liqin, he won the next four points and the match score was at parity.
The pattern of a safe first topspin on the first attack continued in the fifth game, with neither player able to gain a distinct advantage, until at 7-6 WANG Liqin won a fine rally to move ahead 8-6, then playing a little more freely he won the next point to lead 9-6 with MA Lin to serve.
The latter attacked quickly, reduced the arrears to 9-8 by winning both points on his service; then clever changes of spin with the backhand block forced a WANG Liqin error, it was 9-all but that was the last point of the game he won. The final point was an exchange of fantastic topspin rallies, arguably the most exciting point of the tournament; if there was an award for `Point of the Week’ that was it; stupendous, incredible, it was out of this world.
WANG Liqin celebrated and the success had provided the spur he needed; he started the sixth game more confidently and established a 4-1 lead, he maintained the advantage and at 8-6 was nearing victory, then a fierce forehand topspin took him to 9-6; another incredible point from two fine athletes, 9-7, then 10-7, Championship point.
The photographers gathered, the crowd chanted and MA Lin when a MA Lin forehand topspin hit the base of the net it was all over. WANG Liqin, for the second time in his career was the World Champion.
WANG Liqin won 11-9, 3-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7
(Image courtesy of ITTF.com)
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