ITTF Men's World Cup: China's Fan Zhendong lifts record-equalling fourth title

Fan Zhendong Zhendong battled past Ma Long in the final to draw level with China's legendary paddler Ma Lin for the most World Cup titles held by a men's singles player.

China's Fan Zhendong poses with the ITTF Men's World Cup title.   -  TWITTER/ITTF

World No.1 Fan Zhendong on Sunday created history by becoming only the second player to lift the ITTF Men's World Cup title when he defeated Chinese compatriot Ma Long in a thrilling seven-game final in Weihei, China.

Top seed Zhendong battled past Long 3-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9 to draw level with China's legendary paddler Ma Lin for the most World Cup titles held by a men's singles player.

Zhendongs' victory at the bio-secure Weihai Nanhai Olympic Center made him the second winner of the ITTF's #RESTART series after compatriot Chen Meng sealed the Women's World Cup title.

"Obviously I am delighted to win this competition. The importance of each competition might be different or perhaps the time interval between each competition is different.  If you are able to gain confidence from competiting, I feel that is the best form of recognition for myself. It has been a long while since I last played. I am delighted with the performance in the final. This win spurs me on to work even harder in terms of tactics and winning mentality," the world champion said at the post-match presentation. 

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This is Zhendong's third World Cup title in a row. His first arrived back in 2016 in Saarburcken, Germany. The Chinese paddler appeared in the competition for the fifth time and only failed to reach the final in 2015 as he lost to this year's silver medallist Ma Long.

“I would like to thank the Local Organising Committee and the ITTF who, under such difficult circumstances, managed to pull off one of the biggest events like the World Cup. I would also like to thank my team. Despite this pandemic, we could continue to train at a very high level. After eight months without international events, I didn’t feel very rusty or unable to do what I set out to," Fan Zhendong told the official ITTF website.

Next stop on the #RESTART series is Zhengzhou, China, where the 2020 ITTF Finals will take place between November 19 and 22. The event will see many of the world’s best men’s singles and women’s singles players battling for honours and is the third and final event of the post-COVID-19 resumption series