Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women's World Cup
Friday 28th – Sunday 30th September
Ding Ning, sheer perfection
The winner in 2011 in Singapore and three years later in Linz, Ding Ning emerged the victor at the Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women's World Cup in the Chinese city of Chendgu on the late afternoon of Sunday 30th September.
On the concluding day of play, the no.3 seed, after recording a semi-final success in opposition to Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.2 seed (11-7, 11-5, 11-3, 11-9), she accounted for Chinese national team colleague, Zhu Yuling, the top seed and defending champion (11-9, 11-8, 12-10, 11-8).
It was a quite stunning performance. In fact in the whole tournament she surrendered just one game; that being against Korea Republic’s Seo Hyowon, the no.6 seed, at the quarter-final stage (11-6, 11-3, -11, 11-6, 11-3). The win came after she had recorded an opening round success in opposition to Austria’s Liu Jia, the no.16 seed (11-7, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7), a player who by being present in Chengdu set a new standard. It was her 13th appearance in the tournament, thus she surpassed the previous record of Hong Kong’s now retired Tie Yana who had been on duty on 12 occasions.
Meanwhile, en route to the final, in the opposite half of the draw, Zhu Yuling had beaten Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, the no.14 seed (11-8, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5) in the opening round, prior to recording wins against Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.8 seed (11-6, 14-12, 11-8, 11-4) and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.4 seed (11-6, 11-4, 11-13, 11-5, 11-9).
Defeat for Cheng I-Ching but there was consolation; in the third place play-off contest she overcame Kasumi Ishikawa (11-8, 11-7, 12-10, 13-15, 11-8) and thus once again secured a place on the podium. In 2016 in Philadelphia she was the runner up, last year in Markham, as now in Chengdu, she was the bronze medallists.
A fine record but it has very much to take second place to Ding Ning; she has competed in the Women’s World Cup on three occasions, she has always won. The record reads: played 14 matches, won 14 matches. The only other player with a perfect record is her compatriot, Deng Yaping. In her only appearance in the tournament in 1996 in Hong Kong, she emerged successful beating Yang Ying in the final, the player with whom she was to win the Women’s Doubles title at the 1997 World Championships in Manchester.
Ding Ning is now one win behind compatriots Liu Shiwen, Wang Nan and Zhang Yining; each won four times.