Japan Open: Ten Years Later the Same Names Clinch Gold
Yokohama 25th May 2008
Chinaís Ma Lin and Zhang Yining won their first ever singles titles on the ITTF Pro Tour, when they succeeded in Kota Kinobalu at the Malaysian Open in 1998; ten years later on Sunday 25th May 2008, they stood proudly on the top step of the medal podium when matters came to a conclusion at the Volkswagen Open Japan in Yokohama.
Ma Lin beat Wang Liqin in the semis and Wang Hao in the final, to clinch the Menís Singles crown in a tournament dominated by the superstars of Chinese table tennis. In both the Menís and Womenís Singles events all four semi-finalists came from China with Ma Long being the other bronze medallist losing to Wang Hao.
Meanwhile, in the Womenís Singles event Zhang Yining overcame Beijing compatriot Guo Yan at the penultimate stage before defeating Li Xiaoxia, who one round earlier had ended the progress of Guo Yue; the player against who she suffered defeat in the final of the Womenís Singles event at the Liebherr World Championships in May 2007.
It was for Ma Lin his nineteenth Menís Singles title at open international tournaments on the ITTF Pro Tour with the combined total being twenty-one, he has won the Menís Singles crown at the Grand Finals on two occasions and he is the reigning champion. In December 2007 at the Volkswagen Pro Tour Grand Finals in Beijing he beat Wang Hao in the final, in Yokohama, he repeated the success.
An impressive record but no-one can compare with Zhang Yining. She is the most successful player ever in the thirteen year history of the ITTF Pro Tour. The victory at the Volkswagen Open Japan was her twenty-eighth Womenís Singles title in open international tournaments and in addition she has succeeded at the Grand Finals on four occasions.
It is an unprecedented record.
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