Ma Long and Chen Meng record breakers
Outstanding, Ma Long and Chen Meng won the respective men’s and women’s titles at the Bank of Communications 2020 ITTF Finals in Zhengzhou on Sunday 22nd November.
In all-Chinese finals, Ma Long, the no.3 seed, beat Fan Zhendong, the defending champion and top seed (13-11, 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8); the success following the efforts of the splendid Chen Meng. She overcame Wang Manyu, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-13, 14-12, 11-8, 11-5) and justified her status in what was a repeat of the final one year ago, also in Zhengzhou.
Success for Ma Long, no doubt stung by the narrow defeat experienced at the hands of Fan Zhendong the previous week in the title decider at the Dishang 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup, the now 32-year-old was a man with a mission. It was gold at the Grand Finals for a sixth time.
Previously he had won in 2008 and 2009 in Macao, in London in 2011; then in 2015 in Lisbon and 2016 in Doha. The list is now twice the number of his nearest challenger. Colleague Wang Liqin won in 1998 in Paris, 1999 in Kobe and 2004 in Beijing.
Sheer quality from Ma Long and a place in the record books, it was the same for Cheng Meng whose incredible run of form continues.
Following her success at the Agricultural Bank of China 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, earlier in the year on the ITTF World Tour she had won in Germany and Qatar. Later, when play resumed following the break in international competition owing to COVID-19, she was crowned national champion before on her first appearance in the annual tournament succeeding at the Dishang 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup.
Six titles in a row, it is four consecutive wins in the Grand Finals. She won in 2017 in Astana, the following year in Incheon, before last year retaining the title in Zhengzhou.
She now exceeds the record of Liu Shiwen at the Grand Finals; watching from the stands she saw her record of three in a row beaten. Commencing in 2011 in London, Liu Shiwen won in the following year in Hangzhou and in 2013 in Dubai.
Also, Chen Meng equals the four Grand Finals wins of colleague Zhang Yining. She prevailed 1999 in Kobe, 2002 in Stockholm before succeeding in consecutive years in 2005 in Fuzhou and 2006 in Hong Kong.
Four times the winner, four is very much the number. Chen Meng becomes the fourth player to have won the Women’s World Cup title and then to follow by succeeding in the Grand Finals. Deng Yaping completed the feat in 1996, Wang Nan in 1998, Zhang Yining in 2002 and 2005, Liu Shiwen in 2012 and 2013.
Chen Meng once again imperious.
Editor: Ian Marshall