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Table Tennis: China’s Xu claims first World Cup title in Belgium

World No. 2 Xu Xin of China won his first Men's World Cup title and US$45,000. Photos: Christophe Neuville.

World No. 2 Xu Xin of China won US$45,000 after claiming his first Men’s World Cup title. Photos: Christophe Neuville.

October 28, 2013: World No. 2 Xu Xin of China won the Liebherr Men’s World Cup in Verviers, Belgium after beating 37-year-old Belarusian Vladimir Samsonov 4-1 (11-6, 12-14, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7) in the final.

 

It was the first major title for the 23-year-old Xu, who was finally able to win one of the sport’s three biggest titles – the Olympics, held every four years, and the World Championships and World Cup, both biennial.

 

“It’s a big thrill for me to win my first world title here in Belgium. This will give me a lot of confidence to fulfil my dreams of becoming a World Championships winner and Olympic champion,” said Xu, a semi-finalist in this year’s World Championships.

 

Xu, who topped the world ranking in January, February, May and June, paid tribute to his veteran opponent.

 

“The 14-year gap between me and Samsonov gave me an advantage, as I was stronger and faster than him, which was the key to my victory,” Xu said. “I respect Samsonov a lot to be still playing at such a high level at his age. He is a true legend.”

 

Xu on his way to beating veteran Vladimir Samsonov 4-1 in the final in Belgium.

Xu on his way to beating veteran Vladimir Samsonov 4-1 in the final in Belgium.

Samsonov, whose two children were born in Belgium, produced some of the best table tennis of his career to reach his fourth Men’s World Cup final, although he was unable to add to his three golds.

 

“I had my chances in the fourth game at 9-9, but it was not to be and I lost in the final for the first time,” said Samsonov, who is also Chairman of the ITTF Athletes Commission.

 

“Overall, I’m satisfied with my performance. I feel I had two good wins here, including over Timo Boll, who I haven’t beaten for five years.”

 

Boll’s disappointment was compounded when the German was beaten 4-1 (11-3, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6) by compatriot Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the bronze-medal match.

 

It marked Ovtcharov’s best result at a World Cup and the recently crowned European champion leapfrogged his compatriot to become World No. 5, marking the first time in eight years that Boll has not been Europe’s top-ranked player.

 

“I’m very proud to be the leading European player. This is the result of a lot of hard work,” said Ovtcharov, who also won bronze at last year’s Olympics in London.

 

“I was disappointed I lost to Xu in the semi-finals as I felt I had a real chance. Playing the third-place match is always hard, but it’s the World Cup, so you must prepare as for any other match. The bronze medal is important, but I hope I can come back next year and win.”

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