Table tennis: Sun Yingsha up for hat-trick of titles at S’pore Smash as China sweep all five golds again

China's Wang Chuqin and Fan Zhendong beat South Korea's Lim Jong-hoon and Jang Woo-jin 3-1 (9-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-4) to retain their men's doubles title at the Singapore Smash. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE – She did it the hard way but Sun Yingsha is up for a hat-trick of titles at the Singapore Smash for the second year running, as China will sweep all five golds again.

After partnering Wang Chuqin to win the mixed doubles final on Thursday, she and Wang Manyu toiled to a comeback 3-2 (5-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-4, 13-11) win on Saturday over compatriots Chen Meng and Wang Yidi, who were competing in only their second international event together.

A few hours earlier, world No. 1 Sun had cruised to a 4-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8) victory over Manyu in the women’s singles semi-finals. She faces another teammate, world No. 22 Qian Tianyi, in Sunday’s final.

After losing the first two games in the doubles final, Sun said what was important was constant communication with and encouragement for each other.

She added: “All four of us played well. We didn’t adjust from singles to doubles fast enough and we couldn’t find something that worked for us in the first two games.

“But we actively tried to find solutions and later handled the crucial moments in the fifth game well.

“Manyu and I have played together for three to four years, so we’ve slowly built trust and our partnership has improved. Winning the title is a big assurance for us and I hope to do even better in the future.”

It was China’s second title of the day after third seeds Fan Zhendong and Wang Chuqin also retained their men’s doubles crown, defeating fourth seeds Lim Jong-hoon and Jang Woo-jin 3-1 (9-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-4).

Jang, 27, found the result regretful, saying: “They’re the world’s top players, so honestly I felt a little bit pressured. Maybe we were playing too safe (after the first game) and that may have caused us to lose.

“It’s good that we were able to play against great players and gain more experience. If such an opportunity arises again, we’ll have to work even harder for a win.”

Wang, 22, admitted that they struggled against the South Koreans’ aggressive play at first. But winning the second game made them more confident to make the necessary adjustments.

He said: “Both teams played really well. I’m really happy to have won another title with Fan Zhendong as it shows we have developed a synergy.

“I’ve got the world No. 1 as my partner, so the standard he brings to this partnership is not something other teams have. We’ve slowly built our own style as we played more together.”

But the partners later turned opponents as Fan defeated his teammate 4-1 (11-6, 13-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5) to reach the singles final for the second straight year.

Up against compatriot Ma Long – who beat Brazilian Hugo Calderano 4-1 (11-6, 11-6, 11-4, 8-11, 11-8) – in a repeat of the 2022 final, reigning singles world champion Fan is aiming for a hat-trick of singles titles in Singapore after he won the 2021 World Table Tennis Cup Finals.

The defending Singapore Smash champion said: “It’s a challenge for sure to play against someone I’m so familiar with. Our standards are also very similar, but I think I took my chances in crucial moments better.

“Everyone feels nervous (during those moments). I just try to immerse myself in the match.

“No matter whether I am leading or lagging in terms of points, I will proactively think of how to improve my play.

“I’m very happy to be in the final in Singapore for a third time. I hope I will play my best tomorrow.”

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.