Table tennis: China's Sun and Wang win mixed doubles title at WTT S'pore Smash

Wang Chugin (left) and Sun Yingsha celebrate after winning the mixed doubles final against Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching, of Chinese Taipei. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Chinese world No. 1 Sun Yingsha ticked off the first task on her list at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Singapore Smash 2022 on Wednesday (March 16) as she claimed the mixed doubles title with Wang Chuqin at the OCBC Arena.

After winning the T2 Diamond and WTTCup Finals here in 2019 and 2021 respectively, the 21-year-old was eyeing a double hat-trick this time in the women's singles and doubles, and mixed doubles.

The reigning world champions won the first title of the US$2 million (S$2.7 million) event after comfortably beating Chinese Taipei's world No. 1s Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching 3-0 (11-3, 12-10, 11-4).

While Sun said winning her first title here is a confidence booster, she added: "Whether I can win all three events, I can't say yet but I'll do my best for all of them and take it one at a time."

Wang, who also reached the men's doubles final with Fan Zhendong, said: "We played together very well and our chemistry has improved over time. On court, she encourages me when I make some errors and she's calmer while I'm more emotional on court... our communication is very good so I hope we can get more good results together."

It was a busy day for Sun as she kicked it off with a 3-0 (11-5, 11-5, 11-9) victory over compatriot and former world No. 1 Liu Shiwen in the singles round of 16.

Liu, 30, defeated her junior in January's WTT Macau semi-finals but could not replicate her form. She said: "In the first two games, the ball was coming too fast and I couldn't keep up. I did a bit better in the third game, but during crucial moments, I didn't take my chances.

"Going into this, I was always the underdog. Although I was leading (9-6) in the third game, my opponent didn't give me too many chances and I was too rushed."

Sun then partnered Wang Manyu in the women's doubles semi-finals as they cruised to a 3-0 (11-8, 11-5, 11-5) win over Luxembourg's Sarah De Nutte and Ni Xialian.

Despite the loss, the world No. 9s were happy with their performance and acknowledged the gulf in standard between them and the Chinese pair, who also beat them in straight games at the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships semi-finals.

De Nutte, 29, said: "We are very proud of our performance and result. We proved again that we are one of the best doubles pairs, which is very nice even though we lost today. China are very strong, especially in the placement of the ball, and their quality is very good so it's difficult to beat them."

Ni, 58, added: "China and Asia are still dominating the world of table tennis, especially the women's game. They're so strong and Europe is catching up but not fast enough.

"We have competitions too but our levels are lower so psychologically for us, it's difficult to hold on in high-tension moments, such as in our game against China today, because we are weaker so we missed some balls that look easy."

Ni Xia Lian (left) and Sarah De Nutte in action during the women’s semi-final match March 16, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Still, she was grateful to compete here, adding that the event was well organised.

Grinning, she said: "We received a lot of support and we're bringing a lot of love and unforgettable memories back to Luxembourg."

Sun and Wang Manyu will play Japan's world No. 2 Mima Ito and Hina Hayata on Saturday in a rematch of the 2021 world championships final, which the Chinese won.

Ito, 21, has had to regroup after a shock loss to France's Yuan Jianan in the singles on Tuesday. The duo notched a hard-earned 3-2 (11-5, 8-11, 15-13, 11-13, 11-9) victory over world No. 60 Bernadette Szocs and Sofia Polcanova to earn a spot in the final.

Ito said: "Before every match, I just re-focus myself. I entered today's match knowing the opponents are going to be strong. When I went to the table, I was able to be focused so I was happy with myself.

"We lost to (Wang and Sun) in the world championships and regardless of which competition it is, as long as we can win them, I'll be very happy. But most importantly, we have to play our own game and perform to the best of our abilities."

Hina Hayata (rear left) and Mima Ito (rear right) notched a hard-earned 3-2 victory to earn a spot in the final. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Also on the hunt for top spot are China's world No. 33 Fan and Wang Chuqin, who are up against third-ranked Japanese Yukiya Uda and Shunsuke Togami in Friday's final.

The sixth day of action at the OCBC Arena also served up a nail-biting encounter between former world No. 1 Xu Xin of China and 16th-ranked German Patrick Franziska in the round of 16.

After losing to Xi in 10 previous meetings, Franziska upset the form books on Wednesday, capitalising on errors from his rival to notch a 3-2 (11-6, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9) win.

Patrick Franziska (top) returning a shot against Xu Xin at the Singapore Smash 2022 on March 16, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Franziska was still in disbelief during the post-match interview, as he said: "I saw in his last two matches he was struggling a bit so I was thinking maybe I could beat him here. Luckily he also missed some easy balls today and he didn't feel as uncomfortable as usual."

He will have to get past another world No. 1, Fan - whom he lost to in December's WTT Cup Finals - for a spot in the semi-finals.

The table tennis action continues on Thursday with exciting match-ups in the men's and women's singles quarter-finals which will see China's women's world No. 2 Chen Meng taking on Japan's world No. 8 Kasumi Ishikawa, while Sun will meet Hayata in the individual contest. Taiwanese world No. 7 Lin will face Olympic champion Ma Long for a place in the last four.


Afternoon session from 2pm

Women's singles

Wang Yidi (Chn) v Yuan Jianan (Fra)

Kasumi Ishikawa (Jap) v Chen Meng (Chn)

Men's singles

Qiu Dang (Ger) v Yukiya Uda (Jap)

Liang Jingkun (Chn) v Kristian Karlsson (Swe)

Evening session from 7pm

Women's singles

Sun Yingsha (Chn) v Hina Hayata (Jpn)

Wang Manyu (Chn) v Sofia Polcanova (Aut)

Men's singles

Lin Yun-Ju (Tpe) v Ma Long (Chn)

Fan Zhendong (Chn) v Patrick Franziska (Ger)

* All matches are at Table 1

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