China’s Ding Ning claimed the women’s singles title at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Championships in Suzhou today despite suffering an injury to her ankle during the final against compatriot Liu Shiwen.
The top seed beat her opponent 7-11, 15-13, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 4-11, 11-8 in one of the most dramatic finals ever witnessed in the near 90-year history of the tournament.
Ding turned her ankle when trailing by two points to nil in the vital seventh game, and despite having to take an extended break and limping between points, she recovered to secure victory before being rushed to hospital.
Earlier in the day, Ding and Liu beat fellow countrywomen Mu Zi and Li Xiaoxia respectively in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile in the men’s singles quarter-finals, four players from the host nation emerged victorious to set up two all-Chinese encounters in the last four.
The top seed Ma Long beat Hong Kong’s Tang Peng 11-7, 11-9, 11-6, 11-1 before Fang Bo defeated Germany’s Patrick Franziska 11-5, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5.
“It’s the first time I’ve played Patrick Franziska, so I was not familiar with his style of play," said Fang.
“After winning the first two games, I became passive in the third.
“I was grateful for the support.”
Another German Timo Boll suffered a 12-10, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 13-15, 11-7 defeat at the hands of Fan Zhendong, while Zhang Jike overcame Japan’s Jun Mizutani 11-4, 11-6, 10-12, 11-5, 11-9.
Tomorrow’s semi-finals see Ma play Fan, and Fang go up against Zhang, after which the final will take place.
There was even more reason for Zhang to celebrate as he and his partner Xu Xin came out on top in the men’s doubles final, after beating compatriots Fan and Zhou You.
Having overcome South Korean duo Lee Sangsu and Seo Hyundeok in the semi-finals, Xu and Zhang went on to record a 12-14, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9 victory against their fellow countrymen.
“I think that our extra experience counted," said Zhang.
“I think that was especially important at the end of the match.”
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