Third Asian Cup table tennis title to Liu Shiwen
Victory over compatriot Wu Yang at Queen Elizabeth Stadium puts her in good stead for the world championships in Paris next month
China's Liu Shiwen yesterday became the first player to win the Asian Cup three times when she beat compatriot Wu Yang in the final of the US$100,000 tournament at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai.
In the men's singles final, which was also an all-mainland affair, Xu Xin successfully defended his title with a 4-2 victory over Yan An, 4-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9.
World No 2 Liu, who failed to make the China team for the London Olympics last year, coasted to a 4-1 victory (11-3, 11-6, 15-13, 11-6) in front of a 2,500-strong crowd.
"I took the initiative from the beginning and although my opponent changed her tactics in the third game by increasing the pace with more attack, I was still in control of the match," said Liu, who was also crowned champion when the top regional competition was held in Guangzhou in 2010 and last year. "I feel very happy to become the first player to win the title three times, especially in a city I like very much."
The player, who had her 22nd birthday in Hong Kong on Friday, said she would celebrate by trying some cooked food on the street after a tight three-day playing schedule in which she won all six matches and dropped only three games.
Liu returns to Zhongshan today where she will continue her preparation for next month's world championships in Paris.
She was the first player from the star-studded China team to secure a ticket for the world event, but she refused to speculate on her chances. China can send a maximum of seven players to Paris for the women's singles.
"Our duty in Paris is to make sure the title will be kept by the Chinese camp and to do this we must first beat all the opponents from overseas," she said. "The Chinese players are all very strong and it is too early to say who can last till the end. I have to take the tournament match by match."
Men's champion Xu wanted to share his happiness with those who suffered in the Qinghai earthquake, which struck three years ago yesterday, killing thousands.
"It's always great to show concern for the suffering," he said.
In the third place play-off, Kasumi Ishikawa, of Japan, beat Seok Ha-jung, of South Korea, 4-1 while in the men's event, Chuang Chih-yuan, of Taiwan, cruised to a 4-0 victory over Noshad Alamiyan, of Iran.