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October 21, 2019

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Record 5th World Cup for Liu

Reigning world champion Liu Shiwen overcame a slow start and a late scare to beat Zhu Yuling 4-2 in an all-Chinese final and lift the ITTF Women’s World Cup trophy for a record fifth time in Chengdu, southwestern Sichuan Province, yesterday.

The 28-year-old former world No. 1, who was crowned at the world championships for the first time in her over 20-year career in Budapest, Hungary, last April, rallied past the top seed and 2017 Cup winner Zhu 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6, 3-11, 11-9.

“It’s a very important victory for me,” Liu told a post-match press conference. “The four previous titles were all taken at a younger age when I was fierce and had no fear at all.”

Liu had previously won the Cup in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015 before Sunday’s triumph helped her exceed table tennis Grand Slam champions Wang Nan and Zhang Yining to be the most prolific Cup winner.

“But this time, it came with a year ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games, when the atmosphere in our Chinese national team becomes quite intense as time goes by,” she noted.

“I had been waiting so long for the Cup since I needed a weighted title to prove myself, especially after taking the world championship but losing some of the (World) Tour matches,” the 2016 Rio Olympic team gold medalist said, recalling the past months.

“That’s why I had put a lot of pressure on myself here and thus value the title so much.”

Liu breezed past wildcard entry from the United States Lily Zhang 11-6, 11-1, 11-5, 11-5 to make the final, while the 24-year-old Zhu denied a half-way comeback from Singapore veteran Feng Tianwei to win 11-1, 11-13, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5.

“I’m actually happy with the results,” said Zhu, ranked world No. 3 in the latest ITTF standings. “Compared with my recent outings on the World Tour, I’m satisfied with my performance here and rate it a new start to my preparations for next year’s Olympic Games.”

Earlier, Feng beat Lily Zhang 4-1 to finish third at the US$250,000 annual event.


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