WTT Singapore Smash: Chinese paddlers confirm title sweep even before singles finals

Chinese paddlers Sun Yingsha (left) and Wang Manyu during their women's doubles final at the WTT Singapore Smash 2022. (PHOTO: World Table Tennis)
Chinese paddlers Sun Yingsha (left) and Wang Manyu during their women's doubles final at the WTT Singapore Smash 2022. (PHOTO: World Table Tennis)

SINGAPORE — All five titles of the inaugural World Table Tennis (WTT) Singapore Smash tournament will be won by Chinese paddlers - even before the singles finals which are scheduled for Sunday (20 March).

Such dominance was confirmed at the OCBC Arena on Saturday, after Chinese stars Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu won the women's doubles final, and world No.1 Fan Zhendong and world No.2 Ma Long won their semi-final ties to set up an all-China men's singles final.

With Wang facing compatriot Chen Meng in the all-China women's singles final, Sun clinching the mixed doubles title with Wang Chuqin on Wednesday and Fan also winning the men's doubles title with Wang Chuqin on Friday, the Chinese contingent showed just how far they are ahead of the other top paddlers at the US$2 million (S$2.71 million) WTT Singapore Smash.

In the opening match on Saturday, Fan fended off Japan's world No.49 Yukiya Uda 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 16-14, 11-13, 11-9 to set up a chance to win his second WTT singles title in Singapore, following his men's singles triumph in the WTT Cup Finals Singapore last December.

“There were a few lucky moments that contributed to the win, but there were also quite a few good points from Uda that I can learn from," said the 25-year-old, who saved four game points in the fourth game and overcame a 0-5 deficit in the sixth.

"When I trailed 0-5, I was just trying to focus on staying calm and maintaining a positive attitude. That eventually turned things around for me.”

Fan will be facing a tough final opponent in Ma, one of the greats in the game following his five-gold haul at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

The 33-year-old veteran had easily defeated compatriot and world No.5 Liang Jingkun in the other men's singles semi-final 11-5, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8.

"For tomorrow’s final, the head-to-head record doesn’t matter much to me," said Ma, who memorably edged out Fan in last year's Tokyo Olympics gold-medal match.

"Fan has been playing well throughout this event, and I’ll be playing without much pressure. I hope I can make things tough for him and play my best.”

Following the two men's singles semi-finals, Sun and Wang took to the arena to face Japan's Hina Hayata and Mima Ito in the women's doubles final, knowing that a win would seal China's title sweep at the WTT Singapore Smash.

And they did it in dominant style, thrashing the Japan duo 11-4, 11-6, 11-4.

"We came into this match fully prepared and we’re glad to have been able to execute our strategy. We were ready for difficult scenarios, and we’re proud of each other’s ability to perform together on court today," said Wang, who could become a double champion in Singapore should she win Sunday's women's singles final.

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