The final day’s proceedings of 19th Asian table tennis championship here appeared almost like a high-intensity Chinese training session. For nearly eight hours, barring a half-hour period when the Koreans joined the Chinese in the women’s doubles final, it was an uninterrupted exhibition of delightful skills from the games most dominant force.
In the end, World No. 2 Ma Long picked up this second title of the month and fifth of the year by stopping sixth seed Zhang Jike in six games. The triumph not only completed China’s sweep of all seven gold medals, including two that came with the team titles, but also gave Ma Long his fourth gold of the championship.
In the women’s singles final, sixth seed left-hander Ding Ning surprised her doubles partner and top seed Li Xiaoxia in seven games.
Ding Ning, placed seven spots behind Li at ninth in the world rankings, bounced back to win the last two games for the title. The two singles final produced a series of long rallies a throwback to the days preceding the introduction of now-banned speed glue and athletic retrieves that kept the crowd enthralled at the UP Badminton Academy hall here.
On this day, Ma Long defeated his doubles partner Xu Xin for a place in the final against Zhang, the two opponents whom he had beaten less than a month ago on way to the English Open title at Sheffield.
The final saw Ma long run away with the first three games before tossing away a match-point to lose the fourth.
When Zhang Jike, who conquered his doubles partner and three-time World champion Wang Liqin in the semifinals, gained the fifth game rather easily, and raised visions of a longer battle. But that was not to be.
Ma Long, losing finalist in the last edition in 2007, did one better by converting the first of the five match-points.
Li Xiaoxia, a semifinalist in the World championship in May this year, entered the final looking for her fourth gold of the week.
She took off on the wrong foot but then gained control to move within a game of winning this closely fought final.
But the gritty Ding Ning, whose backhand side-spin serve can unnerve many lesser players, turned aggressive in the last two games to clinch the title.
Earlier, with three finals still to go including the one-sided men’s doubles final, Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia ensured a golden sweep for China by beating back the challenge of the third-seeded defensive Koreans Kim Kyung Ah and Park Mi Young, but not before squandering five match-points.
The results (prefix denotes seedings):Men singles (final): 1-Ma Long (Chn) bt 6-Zhang Jike (Chn) 11-8, 11-2, 11-5, 12-14, 3-11, 11-5.
Semifinals: Ma Long bt 12-Xu Xin (Chn) 9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 14-12, 11-6.
Zhang bt 2-Wang Liqin (Chn) 11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 11-13, 11-8, 6-11, 12-10.
Women singles (final): 6-Ding Ning (Chn) bt 1-Li Xiaoxia (Chn) 5-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7. Semifinals: Li bt 13-Fan Ying (Chn) 14-12, 11-9, 12-10, 11-3; Ding bt 2-Liu Shiwen (Chn) 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7.
Men doubles (final): 1-Ma Long and Xu Xin (Chn) bt 2-Wang Liqin and Zhang Jike (Chn) 11-9, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8. Semifinals: Wang and Zhang bt 4-Li Ching and Cheung Yuk (Hkg) 11-6, 11-8, 11-6, 14-12.
Ma Long and Xu Xin bt Kenta Matsudaira and Koki Niwa (Jpn) 11-4, 11-6, 11-3, 11-6.
Women doubles (final): 1-Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia (Chn) bt 3-Kim Kyung Ah and Park Mi Young (Kor) 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 12-14, 11-9, 13-11; Semifinals: Ding and Li bt Dang Ye Seo and Park Young Sook (Kor) 11-8, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8; Kim and Park bt 2-Feng Tianwei and Wang Yue Gu (Sin) 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 10-12, 3-11; 11-2, 11-7.