Zhu is women’s singles champion
China’s Zhu Yuling had a fairy tale ending to her 2016 season by lifting the women’s singles trophy of the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Doha on Sunday.
It was a dream come true for the 21-year-old right-handed player, whose previous major achievement on the global stage was winning the World Junior Table Tennis Championships twice, as she dominated her opponent Han Ying of Germany, winning in straight sets (11-9, 12-10, 12-10, 11-3).
Despite not winning a title nor securing an appearance in the finals of any of the ITTF World Tour events this year, despite participating in five of them, Zhu ensured she won when and where it mattered most, exercising her trademark consistency and patience to overcome the German’s hurdle.
“I was anxious because this is the first time for me to play in the Grand Finals at the end of the year. I was eager to win. Luckily, I could stay at the crucial points; for me, this match is the accumulation of experience.”
“Wining this tournament at the end of this year is a small step for me. I hope I can play well in the next year. In the new circle of Olympics, I think, no matter what problem I will meet, I will spare no effort to prepare for Tokyo Olympics”, Zhu said.
From the onset of the final, the title was bound to have a Chinese slant irrespective of who won, as Han, despite representing Germany, has her roots in China where she played until 2010 before switching allegiance.
Zhu becomes the tenth Chinese player to win the title in its 21-year history.
Historically, China’s domination of the tournament started at the first ever 1996 Grand Finals staged in Tianjin, China, where Deng Yaping emerged the winner.
Since then, a player representing China has won the title on 18 occasions leaving only the victories of Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa (2014), Singapore's Feng Tianwei (2010) and Chen Jing of Chinese Taipei (1999) being the exceptions to the norm.
Of the 18, Zhang Yining leads the field with four wins, followed by Liu Shiwen who succeeded three times. Wang Nan and Guo Yan each won twice, whilst it is one each for Ding Ning, Guo Yue, Li Ju, Li Xiaoxia and Niu Jianfeng.
Ying, meanwhile created a history of her own by emerging the first player representing a national association from outside Asia to reach the final of the Women’s Singles event at the Grand Finals.
Meanwhile, the Japanese duo of Hina Hayata and Yui Hamamoto claimed the women's doubles title after beating Hong Kong's Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching 4-2 (11-8, 15-17, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10) to earn the champions' trophy as well as the $18,000 winners prize.
Overall Hamamoto and Hayata were the third Japanese partnership to reach the women’s doubles title deciding contest at the Grand Finals.