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Table Tennis: Zhang Jike kicks out after winning World Cup thriller

Zhang Jike kicks out at the advertising hoardings while celebrating a dramatic 4-3 win over Ma Long to win the Men’s World Cup in Germany. Photos: Ina Fassbender / ITTF via Action Images.

Zhang Jike kicks out at the advertising hoardings while celebrating a dramatic 4-3 win over Ma Long to win the Men’s World Cup in Germany. Photos: Ina Fassbender / ITTF via Action Images.

October 27, 2014: A fired-up Zhang Jike edged Chinese compatriot Ma Long 4-3 to win a thrilling Liebherr Men’s World Cup in Dusseldorf, but his wild celebrations stole the show as the reigning Olympic champion kicked through the surrounding sponsorship boards.

 

As punishment, the competition jury decided to strip him of his US$45,000 prize money, the ITTF announced. Zhang, who also won last year’s World Championship, was apologetic after the incident, which almost overshadowed a thrilling final.

 

“I am very sorry for what I did,” said Zhang, the World No. 4. “It was not acceptable behaviour and I am sorry.”

 

Zhang’s wild celebrations, which included tearing off his shirt Lin Dan-style, followed a 12-10 win in the seventh and final game after he came back from 3-2 down to outlast Ma, the World No. 3 who was previously unbeaten this year.

 

Zhang, 26, was fired up after coming back 3-2 down to win 12-10 in the seventh and final game.

Zhang, 26, was fired up after coming back 3-2 down to win 12-10 in the seventh and final game.

Zhang eventually beat his good friend 8-11, 11-4, 13-11, 7-11, 2-11, 11-5, 12-10 in front of a capacity crowd at the ISS Dome to clinch his second World Cup crown, having also won in Paris in 2011.

 

Despite proving a man for the big occasion, the 26-year-old Zhang has been criticised for his performances on the international stage since he won last year’s World Championships, so felt he had answered his detractors.

 

“This was a perfect victory,” Zhang said. “I have been under a lot of pressure, with people questioning my form. I am now very satisfied and very relieved. I would like to congratulate Ma Long on an amazing final. We really put on a table tennis exhibition.”

 

The German fans also celebrated a local victory, as former World No. 1 Timo Boll beat Jun Mizutani of Japan 4-2 (2-11, 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-2, 11-9) to finish third.

 

Ma Long, Zhang Jike and Timo Boll receive their prizes after an enthralling final day.

Ma Long, Zhang Jike and Timo Boll receive their prizes after an enthralling final day.

“After the defeat in the semi-finals, it was very hard for me to keep up the concentration for the third-place match. However, I was playing well and I’m glad that I’m so close to the Chinese; I’m only missing little things,” said the 33-year-old Boll.

 

“Against Mizutani it was important that I often made the important ‘small points’. It was good that the crowd was behind me after the lost first set. That really motivated me again.”

 

The World Cup will also be remembered for Nigerian Aruna Quadri’s surprise run to the quarter-finals. The GAC Group ITTF World Tour will resume at the Russian Open from November 5-9.

 

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

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