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Table Tennis: China’s Ma Long closes in on ITTF World Tour record

World No. 2 Ma Long won his 17th World Tour title by beating No. 1 Xu Xin in the China Open final in Chengdu. Photos: Deng Xiao Zhao / ITTF via Action Images.

World No. 2 Ma Long won his 17th World Tour title by beating No. 1 Xu Xin in the China Open final in Chengdu. Photos: Deng Xiao Zhao / ITTF via Action Images.

June 9, 2014: World No. 2 Ma Long moved closer to becoming the most successful ever ITTF World Tour player by beating No. 1 Xu Xin in Chendu on Sunday to win the China Open, the latest GAC Group World Tour Super Series event.

 

The 24-year-old Chinese star defeated his compatriot 4-1 (11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4) at the Sichuan Province Gymnasium to claim his 17th World Tour title, putting him six behind the legendary Vladimir Samsonov, the 38-year-old from Belarus.

 

“I am very happy to win my 17th World Tour title. This means a lot, but I still have quite a few wins left if I am going to catch up to Samsonov’s record of 23,” Xu said. “I had a near-perfect event here. I would like to thank all my fans in Chengdu who came out and supported me. It meant a lot.”

 

 Ma (right) and 17-year-old Fan Zhendong won the men’s doubles.


Ma (right) and 17-year-old Fan Zhendong won the men’s doubles.

Ma also helped 17-year-old prodigy Fan Zhendong win his first WTA doubles title, the pair edging Xu and Olympic champion Zhang Jike 3-2 (6-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-4, 14-12) in an entertaining final.

 

“This is the first time I have won a World Tour doubles title so it is exciting,” said Fan, who won the German Open last year as a 16-year-old. “It was an honour to play with Ma Long. We did a good job in the final and played well with each other.”

 

World No. 2 Ding Ning won her first China Open by beating No. 1 Liu Shiwen in the final.

World No. 2 Ding Ning won her first China Open by beating No. 1 Liu Shiwen in the final.

In the women’s singles, World No. 2 Ding Ning won her first China Open title by edging No. 1 Liu Shiwen 4-3 (11-6, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 2-11, 11-2) in another all-Chinese final in front of a capacity crowd.

 

“I am satisfied with my performance here in Chengdu. I am very happy that I was finally able to win my home event, the China Open,” said the 23-year-old Ding.

 

Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen, the world’s top two players, teamed up to win the doubles.

Ding Ning (left) and Liu Shiwen, the world’s top two players, teamed up to win the doubles.

Ding and Liu paired up to win the doubles, defeating young Chinese Taipei duo Cheng I-Ching and Huang Yi-hua 3-0 (11-5, 11-4, 11-9).

 

Asuka Machi of Japan handled the pressure of his first U-21 final as he came from behind three times to beat Singapore’s Chen Feng 4-3 (6-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 2-11, 11-4, 11-7). Chen is the reigning Philippines Open U-21 champion.

 

In the women’s Australian Open under-21 winner, Chen Szu-yu of Chinese Taipei beat 13-year-old Mima Ito of Japan 4-1 (7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7).

 

The China Open was the 10th event of 21 in this year’s GAC Group ITTF World Tour. At each event, the players earn Race to Bangkok points as they bid to qualify for the US$1 million GAC Group World Tour Grand Finals, which will be held in Bangkok from December 11-14.

 

Source: ITTF (www.ittf.com); Editing by SportAsia

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