Top seed and defending champion, Fan Zhendong successfully retained his title at the 2019 Men’s World Cup in Chengdu.
It has been quite a turnaround for the Chinese ace, who had not won any titles for almost a year before breaking the barren run with the German Open in October. He followed it up with the Austrian Open last month apart from helping China retain the World Team Championships.
To cap off a winning run, Zhendong defeated Japan’s 16 year old sensation Tomokazu Harimoto 9-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-7 in the final for his third World Cup.
“This is my third time to win the World Cup title. But every time is new to me. Every time is different. This time is more about to prove myself. I experienced some lows during the past few months. But now I know I should focus on the situation at hand,” said Zhendong.
The 22-year old defeated another teenager, Chinese Taipei’s 18 year old Lin Yun-Ju 11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 in the semi-finals.
The Mozart Harimoto had upset the odds by overcoming second seeded Chinese Ma Long 11-6, 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 4-11, 11-5 in his semi-finals.
For Ma Long, not only did his hopes wining the World Cup went up in flames, he was also beaten in the playoff for third place. In third place match, Lin Yun-Ju carved out a 11-4, 13-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4 win over his seasoned opponent.
“This is my first World Cup. I really did not expect that I can take home a medal. Ma Long is very strong player, so I just try to challenge him. When I led, I started to play more conservatively. After he managed to come back, I made some changes in receiving and ball placement. I am happy that I won,” said Yun-Ju.
It is only the first time in seven World Cup appearance that Ma Long had failed to get on the podium.
Ma Long had won the title in 2012 in Liverpool and 2015 in Halmstad. The honour of winning three World Cup goes to Zhendong, who was beaten by Ma Long in his debut in Halmstad before succeeding in 2016 in Saarbrücken and last year in Paris.
Zhendong now joins the illustrious list that inlcudes Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus and Wang Hao of China who have three titles to their names.
He is now one win behind Ma Lin who has won the crown four times.
Harimoto, at 16 years and 157 days old, he is the youngest finalist ever, taking over the honour from Zhendong. The Chinese winner was was 18 years and 269 days old, when he reached the final stage in Halmstad.