Japan Open: Wang Liqin Captures Second Title

Wang Liqin, the player ranked number one in the world and the top seed in Yokohama, won the Menís Singles title at the Volkswagen Open Japan on Sunday 24th September 2006 beating his compatriot, Wang Hao, in the final.

Including successes in the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals, it was the twenty-third time that Wang Liqin has emerged as a Menís Singles champion on the ITTF Pro Tour.

In the final in Yokohama he beat Wang Hao in straight games; he won 12-10, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8.

Ten Wins
The meeting in Yokohama was the eleventh time that Wang Liqin and Wang Hao had met in a World Ranking event and it was the tenth time that Wang Liqin had won.

Sadly for Wang Liqin the one occasion when Wang Hao succeeded was in August 2004; in the semi-finals of the Menís Singles event at the Olympic Games in Athens, Wang Hao won in five games to proceed to the final.

Bronze Now Gold
At the end of the day, Wang Liqin had to settle for bronze in Athens, in the play-off match for third place he beat the Swedish hero, Jan-Ove Waldner.

However, at the Volkswagen Open Japan there was no bronze for Wang Liqin, only gold, as he overpowered Wang Hao; the latter wearing a leg support throughout the tournament to protect a slight injury.

Condition Not Good
ďToday I was not in such good conditionĒ, said Wang Liqin.

Now thatís a comment that must be worrying to the rest of the table tennis world. In the semi-finals he beat Ma Lin, ranked number three in the world and in the final he overcame Wang Hao, ranked four in the world.

Granted he took seven games to beat Ma Lin but against Wang Hao he was mightily impressive. The men of the world better beware; when heís in good condition, he might just be difficult to beat? The mind boggles.

Physically Tiring
ďI played in the Volkswagen Open Singapore and in the Panasonic China OpenĒ, continued Wang Liqin. ďPhysically that was very tough but of course itís good to finish those three tournaments with a win, Iím really pleased, very happy.Ē

It was for Wang Liqin his second Menís Singles title on the ITTF Pro Tour in 2006 and it was the second time he was won the Japan Open, he won in 2000 when he beat Ma Lin in the final.

Japan Open 2000
In those days matches were played to twenty-one points with games being best of five and as in the semi-final in 2006 in Yokohama his match against Ma Lin was close.

In Kobe City on Sunday 18th June 2000 he won 21-18, 22-20, 18-21, 18-21, 21-18.

In Yokohama six years later, there was no drama in the final, Wang Liqin was imperious and justified the accolade of being the best player in the world, a superb athlete and a fine ambassador for sport.

Source: ITTF
Image: Wang Liqin, winner of the Men's Singles title at the Volkswagen Open Japan in Yokohama

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