Seventh Heaven for China, Colleagues Secure Place in History for Ding Ning

ITTF Media Release Nov 06, 2011: China overcame Japan in the final of the women’s event at the Liebherr World Team Cup in Magdeburg on Sunday 6th November 2011 and in so doing won the title for a seventh time. In fact, in what is now eight editions of the event, they have only ever failed to win the gold medal on one occasion; in Nimes in 1994, they finished in third place behind Russia and Germany (Seventh Heaven).

However, in 2011, there was to be no repeat of the result experienced some 17 years earlier. The trio of Li Xiaoxia, Guo Yan and Guo Yue duly delivered; a mark of the strength of Chinese table tennis; Ding Ning was rested.

Rested
Not selected, Ding Ning sat and applauded from the bench, as her colleagues marched to victory and secure her a special place in table tennis history. The gold medal achieved means that Ding Ning is the only player, in the same year, ever to win the Women’s Singles title at the World Championships, the Women’s World Cup and the World Team Cup. No other player has ever achieved the feat.

Irrepressible
In the final in Magdeburg, China was irrepressible. Li Xiaoxia beat Ai Fukuhara (11-7, 11-8, 11-4), Guo Yan overcame Guo Yan (11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-8) before Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia combined to beat Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa (11-5, 11-9, 11-8) to end matters.

Motivated
It was a very motivated Li Xiaoxia who set China on the road to victory; her topspin play overcoming the fast attacking play of Ai Fukuhara. Ai Fukuhara attacked quickly from the backhand from the very outset of proceedings; however as Li Xiaoxia became more and more acclimatised to the situation and achieved a rhythm to her play, her topspin play became more fluent and Ai Fukuhara made errors. The errors were to be anticipated; Ai Fukuhara had to take risks against her more powerful opponent.

Assumed Control
Li Xiaoxia captured the first two games after one or two nervous moments but in the third game she started to assume total command. She won the first three points, the Japanese camp called Time Out” It was in vain; Li Xiaoxia was now in command; more aggressive, more consistent than at any stage of the contest, she brought matters quickly to a conclusion. It was advantage China.

Power
Next on court came Guo Yan and Sayaka Hirano. The Japanese star was determined to remain close to the table at all times. On the few occasions she was forced to retreat, she was overpowered and that was the basic problem for Sayaka Hirano; she was facing a more powerful player and a player who is the model of consistency.

Desire
Equally, the work rate of Guo Yan is as high as that of any player in the world; her desire to win the big one, the Olympic or World Championship title immense. In fact in her desire to clinch one of those prestigious titles she puts herself under enormous pressure.

Sayaka Hirano Clinches Second Game
Guo Yan controlled the first game but in the early stages of the second game Sayaka Hirano established a 6-2 lead; the next three points all went the way of Guo Yan. The Japanese camp called Time Out. The break proved fruitful, Sayaka Hirano established a 9-6 lead but Guo Yan then played error free to win the next five points; the Japanese star levelled and then on her second game point secured success.

Incredible Consistency
The loss of the second game stung Guo Yan. She captured the third game and captured the game comfortably; the incredible level of consistency combined with the extra degree of power saw her move into a 10-4 lead. Fighting for every point, Sayaka Hirano saved three game points but to ask her to save six would have required a superhuman effort. It was not to be; the third game went to Guo Yan.

Support for Sayaka Hirano
A storm had been weathered, in the fourth game Guo Yan, maintaining her high consistency level, her backhand solid, reliable, never failing, captured an early lead. The German spectators gave Sayaka Hirano, the underdog, every support, her delightful character and charming personality making her a favourite with the crowd.

Guo Yan Determined
Urged forward by her newly found supporters, Sayaka Hirano responded; she moved into a 7-5 lead in the fourth game but Guo Yan, greeting every success with vocal cry, won the next five points to lead 10-7. Sayaka Hirano saved the first match point; immediately Shi Zhihao, the Chinese Women’s Team National coach called Time Out. A wise move, Guo Yan won the next point; China led two-nil.

The Very Best
Two matches to nil in arrears, Japan had a mountain to climb and that mountain became even higher when China chose Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia as their doubles combination. Winners of the Women’s Doubles title at the H.I.S. World Championships in Yokohama in 2009, the title they successfully retained in Rotterdam earlier this year at the GAC GROUP 2011 World Championships, Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia are the best Women’s Doubles pairing in the world.

Furthermore, they have never lost, since finishing runners up to Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana in the final of the Women’s Doubles event at the Panasonic China Open in September 2008!

Challenged
In Magdeburg, they were challenged by Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa, they rose to the occasion but at the end of the day it was Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia who prevailed. The Liebherr World Team title was in Chinese hands and in an impressive manner. They won every contest three-nil, the best in the world, simply superb, a model for the world to admire.

China Overcomes Korea to Retain Men’s Title at Liebherr World Team Cup

Victorious in Magdeburg four years earlier, China once again showed a liking for the German city. On the morning of Sunday 6th November 2011, their women’s outfit had captured the female title at Liebherr World Team Cup; in the afternoon of the men’s team followed suit. They beat Korea by three matches to nil to retain the crown won in Dubai one year earlier and to secure the title for the sixth time in the eight editions of the tournament.

Only Twice
The only times China has not won the Men’s Team title was in the inaugural year in 1991 when gold finished in Swedish hands and in 1995, when Korea emerged as the champions.

Lowest Ever
In 1995 China finished in their lowest place ever in the competition, they concluded matters in fifth place. In Magdeburg two players from that year were on duty; Liu Guoliang and Yoo Nam Kyu. No neither was playing in 2011, they were the respective coaches for China and Korea. Top place for Korea some 16 years ago but in Magdeburg there was to be no repeat.

The Teams
China fielded the team that had succeeded in the semi-finals; Ma Long, Xu Xin and Wang Hao were on duty. Meanwhile, for Korea there was one change to the outfit that had beaten Japan on the previous day, the supremely talented Kim Min Seok replaced Joo Se Hyuk; no doubt the thinking was that the Chinese were most adroit against the defensive style of Joo Se Hyuk and Kim Min Seok might just produce an upset.

Match Progress
Kim Min Seok impressed; he tested Xu Xin but there was no stopping China. Ma Long beat Ryu Seung Min (11-13, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4), Xu Xin accounted for Kim Min Seok (11-9, 6-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8) with Ma Long and Wang Hao bringing matters to an end. They beat Kim Min Seok and Oh Sang Eun (11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5)

Captured Imagination
The match to commence proceedings was the battle of the mighty forehands; it was Ma Long against Ryu Seung Min. It was a contest that captured the imagination of the crowd from the very start as the stars exchanged blows with fearsome forehands delighting the crowd. One group of spectators supported China with the cries of Jiao You, Jiao You and another chanted Korea, Korea, Korea.

First Game
In the opening game Ryu Seung Min established a 9-8 lead; Korean coach Yoo Nam Kyu called Time Out; it seemed somewhat early to call for the break but it proved wise. An outrageous forehand counter top spin from Ryu Seung Min left Ma Long totally mesmerised and flat footed; it brought the first game to an end, 13-11 in favour of Korea.

Seized Control
A close reverse for Ma Long but in the second game he assumed controlled; continually directing his attacks towards the body of Ryu Seung Min, he dominated the second and third games. Ma Long pressurised Ryu Seung Min, he forced errors from the Korean, as he tried to execute his own dynamic forehand; the difference was the fact that the two players are from a different era.

Backhand Important
Ryu Seung Min learnt his trade before the backhand topspin from the reversed side of the penholder’s racket became universal. Conversely Ma Long was able to attack from both wings with venom and as the match progressed he established a fluent rhythm, he was the first to attack, dominant, irrepressible.

No Hiccups
The third game was in style and in the fourth he went ahead 8-4; Liu Guoliang, the Chinese Men’s Team Head Coach called Time Out. It was just to make sure there were no hiccups; Ma Long made sure, China had the early lead.

A Challenge
Next into the arena came Xu Xin and Kim Min Seok. The 19 year Korean responded to the challenge; he extended Xu Xin the full five games distance. In previous encounters in the Liebherr World Team Cup no player had been able to respond to the ability of Xu Xin in the area of service and first attack; Kim Min Seok responded but as the contest progressed the Chinese star made his mark.

Five Games
However, Xu Xin knew he had been in a battle and Liu Guoliang realised Kim Min Seok was a threat, a major threat. Xu Xin led 5-3 at the change of ends in the deciding fifth game; the he went ahead 8-5; Liu Guoliang called Time Out. He moved ahead 10-5; Kim Min Seok saved three match points but he could not save a fourth; it was a brave effort but in vain. China led two-nil.

Doubles Conclusion
The performance of Kim Min Seok had to some extent stolen the show; equally the fact that Xu Xin won had turned the scales heavily in China’s favour. Kim Min Seok and Oh Sang Eun gave their best but the combination of the players currently listed in the top two places on the world rankings proved too great. They secured the second game but as the Chinese duo forged ahead in the fourth game, leading by two games to one, matters looked bleak for Korea. At 4-1 in favour of Ma Long and Wang Hao, Yoo Nam Kyu called Time Out.

In Safe Hands
Kim Min Seok and Oh Sang Eun recovered to trail 5-6; the recovery prompted Liu Guoliang to call Time Out. The decision was proved correct; Ma Long and Wang Hao never looked backed, they did not lose another point. They secured a four games win, the Liebherr World Team Cup title was in Chinese hands, once again in Chinese hands, safe Chinese hands. —- Photos by: Guido Schiefer

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