Liu Shiwen qualifies for her fifth World Cup after beating reigning Olympic Champion Li XiaoxiaPhoto: Courtesy ITTF
World number one LIU Shiwen has qualified for her fifth ITTF Women’s World Cup after claiming gold at the Nakheel 2016 ITTF-Asian Cup that concluded today, 30 March, in Dubai.
LIU has achieved success on all her four previous trips at the Women’s World Cups, and is now the most successful player alongside her senior ZHANG Yining. The 25-year-old will now aim for a historic fifth title at the 2016 ITTF Women’s World Cup later this year.
The top seed was able to achieve the feat after overcoming the reigning Olympic Champion LI Xiaoxia 4-1 (11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 14-12, 11-3).
“I’m really happy to win this title today, especially after my early defeat at the ITTF-Asian Olympic Qualifiers just last week,” shared the champion. “I was indeed affected by that defeat, so for me to forgo that and be ready within a week for this tournament was a challenge. I’m glad I overcame that.”
In the men’s event, defending champion XU Xin claims his fourth Asian Cup title against his teammate, grand slam champion ZHANG Jike. After losing the first game 4-11, the top seeded Chinese recovered to win 4-2 (4-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6).
“Every time I have come to Dubai I have won a major title, so this is definitely my lucky and special place,” shared XU after his victory.
“This is a major title, won against a very good player (Zhang Jike), so I am very pleased and my confidence is sky high. But this event is just a stepping stone to the Olympic Games. I will now focus on my training to keep my momentum up on the road to Rio.”
“This will help my chances to qualify for Rio, but the team is still not decided. I am trying to keep this situation out of my head, and just playing my best and focusing on getting good results.”
Failing to defend her title against LI in the women’s semifinals, Singapore’s FENG Tianwei settled for the bronze medal, defeating Hong Kong’s TIE Yana in 4 straight games (11-7, 11-3, 11-4, 11-6).
FENG’s compatriot GAO Ning however, not able to repeat her success in the men’s singles bronze medal match. Despite coming back to win games in the match, the 33-year-old Singaporean lost his winning momentum to Hong Kong’s rising star player WONG Chun Ting 2-4 (4-11, 12-10, 11-9, 2-11, 6-11, 9-11).
The Liebherr 2016 Men's World Cup will be held 1-3 October 2016 in Saarbrucken, Germany and the 2016 ITTF Women's World Cup on 7-9 October in a location to be announced.
The ITTF World Cups are the second most prestigious events on the international table tennis calendar, with only 20 of the top table tennis players qualifying through their respective Continental Cups together with the current World Champions, one host player and a wildcard.
As the two current World Champions are both Chinese, and only two players from each country able to compete in the World Cup’s, only the two Champions LIU Shiwen and XU Xin will be heading to the World Cups from the Chinese team, together with the World Champions DING Ning and MA Long.
Players who have secured their places at the ITTF World Cups along with LIU and XU are FENG Tianwei (SIN), TIE Yana (HKG), WONG Chun-Ting (HKG0, GAO Ning, Quadri ARUNA & Dina MESHREF are Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER), SHEN Yanfei, Joao MONTEIRO (POR), Alexander SHIBAEV (RUS), HU Melek (TUR) and LIU Jia (AUT) who all qualified through their Continental Cups.