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Table Tennis: Chinese teenagers win Kuwait Open singles titles

Fan Zhendong (left), 17, won his third ITTF World Tour title by beating Yan An in the men's singles final at the Kuwait Open. Photos: Mohammad Amin Qasim / ITTF via Action Images.

Fan Zhendong (left), 17, won his third ITTF World Tour title by beating Yan An in the men’s singles final at the Kuwait Open. Photos: Mohammad Amin Qasim / ITTF via Action Images.

February 17, 2014: Chinese teenager Fan Zhendong created history by winning his third GAC Group ITTF World Tour title at the Kuwait Open on Sunday.

 

The 17-year-old World No. 5 – the top seed in the Super Series event – defeated teammate and close friend Yan An 4-1 (11-7, 11-7, 13-15, 11-3, 11-8) to seal an emotional victory in the first World Tour event of the year.

 

Fan believes he has made big strides since losing to the 21-year-old Yan in their previous encounter, at last year’s ITTF World Tour Swedish Open final.

 

“After my loss to Yan An last year, I am more prepared to meet him this year,” said Fan, the 2012 World Junior Championship winner. “I worked on many areas that were lacking last year, such as my service and receive.”

 

Last year Fan became the youngest player to win an ITTF men’s singles title and now has three to his name before his 18th birthday.

 

“I am still a youth player, so I have to take it step-by-step to reach the top,” he said. “I also lack experience and there are still many areas that I have to improve on. Having said that, if I had to state one current aim, it is to become world champion.”

 

Zhu Yuling, 19, beat Chinese compatriot Chen Meng to win her first World Tour title.

Zhu Yuling, 19, beat Chinese compatriot Chen Meng to win her first World Tour title.

In the women’s singles final, 19-year-old Zhu Yuling twice came from behind to beat 20-year-old Chinese compatriot Chen Meng 4-2 (9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-4) to clinch her first World Tour title.

 

Going into the final, World No. 6 Chen was the hot favourite after defeating World No. 1 and defending champion Liu Shiwen 4-0 in the semi-finals, but World No. 7 Zhu held her nerve to secure the gold.

 

“I’ve played on the World Tour for four years, but I’ve never won before, so this is a very special win for me here in Kuwait,” said Zhu, a two-time World Junior Championship winner.

 

“This is my third attempt at the Kuwait Open. Both the first times I lost in the semi-final, so in the semi-final yesterday, I took it as a personal challenge. Today in the final, I could go all out.”

 

Stefan Fegerl of Sweden and Lin Gaoyuan of China secured gold in the men’s doubles with a hard-fought victory over the in-form Taiwanese pairing of Chiang Hung-chieh and Huang Sheng-sheng, also twice coming from behind to win 4-2 (5-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-3, 11-7).

 

China’s Lin Gaoyuan (left) and Sweden’s Stefan Fegerl (right) won the men’s doubles.

China’s Lin Gaoyuan (left) and Sweden’s Stefan Fegerl (right) won the men’s doubles.

Liu Shiwen made up for her disappointment in the singles by teaming up with Chinese compatriot Mu Zi for the first time to win the women’s doubles, beating Korean pair Jeon Ji-hee and Seok Ha-jung 3-0 (11-8, 11-9, 11-6) in the final.

 

Asuka Sakai of Japan won the men’s Under-21 title by coming back from a game down to beat Kim Dong-hyun of Korea 4-2 (8-11, 13-11, 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 11-3).

 

Japan’s Olympic silver medallist Kasumi Ishikawa was not so lucky, losing in the women’s Under-21 singles final to Yang Ha-eun of Korea, who racked up her eighth Under-21 title on the ITTF World Tour.

 

Many of the world’s top players next took a short trip to Doha for the next Super Series event, the Qatar Open, which starts on Tuesday.

 

Source: ITTF

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