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Men's and Women's Doubles- SEAMASTER 2018 ITTF WORLD TOUR PLATINUM KAISA CHINA OPEN

SEAMASTER 2018 ITTF WORLD TOUR PLATINUM KAISA CHINA OPEN

SHENZHEN: SUNDAY 3RD JUNE

 

Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan restore national pride

Trying to achieve what is one of the most difficult tasks in sport, let alone just table tennis, beating players from China in consecutive matches was the challenge which faced the partnership of Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Spain’s Alvaro Robles in the final of the Men’s Doubles event at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Kaisa China Open in Shenzhen on Sunday 3rd June.

Sensationally at the semi-final stage they had beaten Ma Long and Xu Xin, the no.3 seeds (11-9, 11-9, 4-11, 4-11, 12-10) but in the eyes of many the best pair in the world; in the final they faced Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan, the no.6 seeds. It was to be defeat (11-9, 11-4, 11-4) but the European duo departed Shenzhen with heads held high.

In the opening game Ovidiu Ionescu and Alvaro Robles matched Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaiyuan; perhaps if there was a key, the faded forehand from Fan Zhendong wide to the Ovidiu Ionescu backhand was a key feature. Equally late changes of direction from the Romanian’s forehand played down the line, left Lin Gaoyuan gasping for thin air.

Win a close game and confidence blossoms, it is a well-worn adage but proved very true for Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan; they made an electric start to the second game, they never looked back.

Confident in the third game Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan moved ahead 4-1; Ovidiu Ionescu and Alvaro Robles called “Time Out” and walked to the surround for advice from Denmark’s Jonathan Groth who was fulfilling the role of coach. However, the writing was on the wall, the magic of two days earlier was not to be repeated; at 10-3, Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan held seven match points. Ovidiu Ionescu and Alvaro Robles won the next point but no more; the title belonged to China.

Notably for Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan it was their first appearance in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles final; more remarkably for Ovidiu Ionescu and Alvaro Robles it was their first appearance in any tournament!

 

Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling crowned champions

Home crowd support, ready for the challenge, Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling won the Women’s Doubles title at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Kaisa China Open in Shenzhen on Sunday 3rd June.

The no.5 seeds, they beat Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, the no.3 seeds, at the final hurdle (11-9, 11-5, 4-11, 11-5) to arrest the title.

No strangers to each other but in the opening game finding a rhythm to their play, establishing a lead that would relax nerves was the problem for both pair but at the crucial stage, scores level at 9-all, Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling held the ace card.

Simply they followed the tried and trusted policy of takes no risks, keep the ball on the table, trust your techniques and the chances are you will succeed; the policy worked.

The policy continued to work in the second game, Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling were always the favourites in the rallies; they established an 8-4 lead; they surrendered just one more point.

Any hesitancy that may have been prevalent in the opening games had vanished into the Shenzhen evening air; not only from Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling but also from Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun. They were in a “nothing to lose” situation and playing in a more relaxed manner moved ahead 6-2 in the third game; a gap they never surrendered.

Stung by the reversed, accelerating the speed of the play, Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling asserted a 4-1 advantage in the fourth game, the Korean duo called “Time Out”. However, now the momentum was with the host nation duo; at 10-2, they held eight game points, Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun secured the next three points, Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling called “Time Out”, the break worked the title was secured.

Success for Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling, as a partnership it was only their third appearance as a partnership in an ITTF World Tour Women’s Doubles final; it was their third success. In 2015, they had won in both Kuwait and in Warsaw; in the former beating Singapore’s Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu in the final; in the latter Germany’s Han Ying and Irene Ivancan.

Meanwhile for Jeon Jihee it was their 16th such final, the ninth time in runners up spot.