Grand Slam Champions of China, Zhang Jike and LI Xiaoxia, have come back to reclaim the Men’s and Women’’ Singles title at the 2016 ITTF World Tour tagged ‘Kuwait Open’.
The tournament, which served off on March 16, witnessed Jike, who won the title back in 2013, but has been suffering several defeats on the international tour in 2015, looking determined to prove himself again.
The highly anticipated men’s singles final saw the reigning Olympic champion face-off with current world number one, MA Long, who has had a great year in 2015, claiming all three major titles available in 2015 which include: World Champion, Men’s World Cup Champion, and World Tour Grand Finals Champion.
Jike eventually prevailed 4-1 (11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 13-11, 11-9) to break MA’s dominance.
After his victory, the 28-year-old, whose last international singles title was at the 2014 Men’s World Cup, said: “Throughout the tournament, I was in form both physically and mentally, especially as the tournament progressed, things just went better. We know each other very well, so it’s normal that it was a close match. Even though I won 4-1, those 4 games were just by a 2-point margin”.
“I won because of my mindset. Ma Long is in top form lately, and has been winning many major titles in the past year, so I was ready to go all out to fight tonight. I think the most important aspect of competition is when both parties give their best to fight in the match, that’s most respectable”.
The Chinese also combined with his teammate, Xu Xin, to win the men’s doubles. The duo defeated Hong Kong’s HO Kwan Kit and TANG Peng 3-1 (6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5) to strike gold in Kuwait.
In the women’s singles event, LI Xiaoxia became the first female player to successfully defend her title, after beating 2015 World Champion, DING Ning, 4-1 (11-6, 2-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8).
“I haven’t been having systematic training for quite some time due to my injuries, so I have never thought that I could win. I think my mentality helped in my victory, because I came here without any expectations,” stated the surprised champion.
In an all-Chinese women’s doubles final, DING joined forces with world’s number one, LIU Shiwen, to overcome teammates LI and ZHU Yuling 3-0 (11-4, 11-6, 11-5) and avenge both their losses against the Grand Slam Champion in the singles event to take home the title.
The under-21 men and women’s titles were won by Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Japan’s Hina Hayata.
The 2016 ITTF World Tour Super Series continues in Qatar from March 23 – 27, 2016, with the world’s top table tennis stars competing in the city of Doha.