Chen Meng wins Women's World Cup in all-Chinese final

Chen Meng of People's Republic of China during the ITTF Women's World Cup
Chen Meng of People's Republic of China during the ITTF Women's World Cup

The world number one has beaten her Chinese compatriot, the world number three, in five games

World number one CHEN Meng of People's Republic of China has won the ITTF Women's World Cup after beating teammate and world no. 3 SUN Yingsha in a tightly-contested final.

It is Chen's first World Cup singles title.

"Last month, I also won a title in the same venue and now this World Cup is a high point for me," she said after the tournament, which marked a return of international table tennis events after eight months.

"I feel very happy to be stood here with the trophy. This will help my confidence going into the next tournament and I hope that at the ITTF Finals in Zhengzhou I can continue my good form and win another title."

Chen, six years Sun's senior, showed her experience as she held her nerve in Weihai, northeastern China. Sun had taken an early lead, winning the first game 13-11 that either woman could have won.

But the top-ranked player, also the tournament top seed, pumped herself up with huge screams and a big show of emotion. In the second game, she found herself 5-1 down but rolled off 10 of the next 11 points to win it 11-6 and level the match.

The third, fourth, and fifth games saw Sun constantly press Chen but the younger player was never able to find the extra gear to overcome Chen.

Chen won 11-13, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8.

"With the World Cup, it is a breakthrough for me. I was feeling quite a bit of pressure before the tournament and in the first game I lost the game despite being in the lead. Being able to let loose and excel as the match progressed was really not easy," Chen said.

Chen had earlier, somewhat surprisingly, only just scraped into the final, beating Germany's Han Ying in a match that went the full seven games. Sun, meanwhile, beat world number two ITO Mima of Japan in six games in the semi-final.

Ito breezes through bronze playoff

In the bronze medal final, Ito defeated Han 4-0 in a straight game (11-2, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4).

Han was never really in the game, with her best period coming in the third game when she matched Ito closely.

The Japanese player quickly built up an 8-0 lead in the fourth game, and although Han won four points in a row to force Ito into a timeout, the result was never in doubt.

Speaking after her bronze medal win, which was Ito's first singles medal in a major championships, she said she impressed with her performance.

“I was able to achieve the standards that I know I can, and I managed to get over my loss in the semi-final. If I evaluate this event out of 100, I would give myself a score of 50,” she said.

Looking at the rest of the results, Lily Zhang of the United States, who was a breakthrough star last year, had another memorable Women's World Cup reaching the quarter-finals before losing to Chen.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico's Adriana Diaz progressed to the knockout stages for the first time in her career with Wu Yue (USA) also qualifying. The result ensured three players from the Pan American region reached the knockout round for the first.

Heartrendingly, a small number of fans were allowed in to watch both the bronze medal match and the final, sitting in the top tier of the arena with social distancing observed. It added a different dimension to the matches, although the usual yells in support of players were missing.

Up next: Men's World Cup

With the Women's World Cup coming to an end, it doesn't mean table tennis action is over with the Dishang 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup, taking place between 13-15 November 2020.

Twenty-one of the best men's players are set to battle each other for gold in Weihai. The likes of World and Olympic champion MA Long, world no. 1 and defending Men’s World Cup champion FAN Zhendong, Japan's young gun TOMOKAZU Harimoto and 2017 Men’s World Cup champion Dimitrij Ovtcharov.

By the Olympic Channel