TABLE TENNIS: Fan and Ito impress with Swedish Open titles

China's Zhendong Fan (Photo: ITTFworld)

China has been the gold standard in table tennis for a long time and the next star is obviously Zhendong Fan, who won his third tournament of the 2018 season with a 4-1 victory over teammate Xin Xu at the Swedish Open in Stockholm.

Fan, still just 21, has won individual bronze (2015) and silver (2017) medals in the World Championships, but is not coming into his own on the ITTF World Tour with three wins and the Asian Games gold medal in Indonesia. And he’s now ranked no. 1 in the world after his third Swedish Open title (also in 2014 and 2015).

Japan’s Mima Ito – now 18 – demonstrated that fear can never be a part of a champion’s diet. She negotiated the toughest draw in the tournament by beating three Chinese stars in a row: no. 6-ranked Shiwen Liu (CHN) in the quarterfinals, 4-3; then defeated 2016 Olympic champ (and world no. 2) Ning Ding (CHN) by 4-2, and then took out top-ranked Yuling Zhu (CHN), 4-0, in the final!

“I was very focused, played one point at a time,” said Ito afterwards. “Suddenly I won the match, it’s incredible! In Halmstad at the World Championships, I won against China. Today I did it again; that’s the best for me that I could do it again.”

China also won the women’s Doubles behind Xingtong Chen and Yingsha Sun in an all-China final, and the Chinese Taipei team of Cheng-Ting Liao and Yun-Ju Lin won the men’s Doubles. Summaries:

ITTF World Tour Swedish Open
Stockholm (SWE) ~ 1-4 November 2018
(Full results here)

Men’s Singles: 1. Zhendong Fan (CHN); 2. Xin Xu (CHN); 3. Mattias Falck (SWE) and Qihao Zhou (CHN). Semis: Fan d. Falck, 4-0; Xu d. Zhou, 4-0. Final: Fan d. Xu, 4-1.

Men’s Doubles: 1. Cheng-Ting Liao/Yun-Ju Lin (TPE); 2. Mattias Falck/Kristian Karlsson (SWE); 3. Anton Kallberg/Truis Moregard (SWE) and Paul Drinkhall/Liam Pitchford (ENG). Semis: Falck/Karlsson d. Kallberg/Moregard, 3-2; Liao/Lin d. Drinkhall/Pitchford, 3-1. Final: Liao/Lin d. Falck/Karlsson, 3-2.

Women’s Singles: 1. Mima Ito (JPN); 2. Yuling Zhu (CHN); 3. Ning Ding (CHN) and Meng Chen (CHN). Semis: Zhu d. Chen, 4-2; Ito d. Ding, 4-2. Final: Ito d. Zhu, 4-0.

Women’s Doubles: 1. Xingtong Chen/Yingsha Sun (CHN); 2. Gaoyang Liu/Rui Zhang (CHN); 3. Jihee Jeon/Haeun Yang (KOR) and Ke Chen/Manyu Wang (CHN). Semis: Liu/Zhang d. Jeon/Yang, 3-2; Chen/Sun d. Chan/Wang, 3-1. Final: Chen/Sun d. Liu/Zhang, 3-1.