Fan, Zhu book tickets to table tennis World Team Championships



Table tennis World Cup winner Fan Zhendong got past World No. 2 Xu Xin 4-2 at the 2020 The Marvellous 12 in Shenzhen, securing a place for himself at the forthcoming 2020 World Team Championships to be held in March in Busan, South Korea.

The two went neck and neck in the first three frames. The fourth frame saw Fan claiming it by 18-16 after Xu took the lead 10-7. The fifth frame was the turning point for Fan, in which he dominated 11-7. In the sixth frame, he stormed to 11-5 and eventually sealed the deal by 4-2.

In post-game interview, Fan commented, "The opportunity was in my hand in the second match and it depended on how I managed it. I did not do well in the second and third frame, but in the fourth I was more active and it didn't matter if my opponent made a good serve. I got the experience from this point. For me, I should prepare well for each match, whether it's a big competition or a small one. And I hope that I can have good form, which can help me perform well."

Fan's win over Xu came after defeating Zhou Qihao with an easy 4-1.

(L2-R2) Xu Xin, Sun Yingsha, Fan Zhendong, and Zhu Yuling of China pose at awards ceremony of the 2020 The Marvellous 12 in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, January 4, 2020.

On the women's side, World No. 6 Zhu Yuling, who upset World No.1 Chen Meng by 4-2 in the earlier round robin, went on to defeat compatriot Sun Yingsha by 4-2 again.

Zhu and Sun took the lead by turns in the first three frames, with the latter claiming two of the three. Though Zhu lost the third frame by 11-6, she adjusted herself and made a strong come-back in the fourth frame, winning it 11-7 and capturing another win in the fifth round by 11-9. In the decisive sixth frame, Zhu made sure she left no chance to Sun, winning it by 11-5 to top the podium.

Zhu Yuling in action during the 2020 The Marvellous 12 in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, January 4, 2020.

Zhu's name was not familiar to the world, as she struggled with her own performances over the last two years. In 2019, she was not included in the list of the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, nor was she seen in the World Cup held in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China.

This time in the 2020 The Marvellous 12, she defeated star paddlers in her team, namely Ding Ning, Chen Meng, and Sun Yingshan, surprising everyone including herself.

"I don't know what to say except for 'thank you.' I hope I can pay more efforts," Zhu said after being speechlessly thrilled following her win.

The win has boosted Zhu's confidence. It is uncertain if she will be seen in the 2020 Summer Olympics, but at least for now, she will be attracting attention in Busan.