Xu, Liu capture Asian Cup

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Xu, Liu capture Asian Cup
Xu Xin too good for Zhang Jike.

Dubai - Zhang, Li go down fighting in all-Chinese summit rounds

By Moni Mathews

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Published: Sat 30 Apr 2016, 7:30 PM

Last updated: Sat 30 Apr 2016, 9:34 PM

China's world number three Xu Xin and Olympic champion Liu Shiwen captured the men's and women's singles crowns at the Nakheel Table Tennis Asian Cup at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) on Saturday.
In the all-China summit rounds in front of the 800 plus capacity crowd, tucked away at one corner of the DWTC at Zabeel Hall 1, the new champions registered victories over Zhang Jike, the Olympic men's singles gold medallist and the only player in history to win a career Grand Slam, and world number one women's player Li Xiaxia, respectively.
In the bronze medal playoffs earlier in the evening, defending champion Feng Tianwei of Singapore made some amends with a 4-0 victory over Hong Kong China's Tie Yana, while Feng's compatriot, the ever reliable veteran Gao Ning, went down fighting 2-4 to the aggressive Hong Kong China's right handed pen holder grip player Wong Chun Ting.
"My objective for this event has been achieved not only regarding winning it but also the way I approached it in handling the pressure situations against some of the best players in the world. This is a right start for the final phases of my Olympic preparations," said Liu.
"For me the target was to get to the late stages and my strapped left thigh is not giving me much problems now. I give full credit to my opponent (Liu) for playing so well and consistently tonight (Saturday)," said Li.
Liu the faster of the two women's singles finalists first had to neutralise the more powerful Li, which she did with great effect thanks to her ability to turn directions quickly with superb mid and front table coverage, supported by deadly by the half short jab returns.
Liu ran up a 2-0 match lead with 11-8, 11-9 which the tenacious Li countered with a 8-3 lead in the third set before clinching it at 11-9 (2-1).
Three deuced battles were seen through before Liu produced her two handed combo with telling effect to clinch the fourth at 14-12 (3-1). Liu made Li to struggle in the fifth before a 8-3 jump and sealed the set, match and title at 11-3 (4-1).
Pen holder styled southpaw Xu, and Zhang were seen engaged in fierce exchanges of looping drives far from the table, often keeping the crowd glued to the edge of the seats in the third and fifth sets.
In the end, the versatility of Xu over a more error prone Zhang saw the left hander walk away with a 4-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6 (4-2) triumph.
Both players began cautiously and it took till the beginning of the third set for them to step up a gear in their attacking modes, and when they did especially with the looping drives far from the table, the lovers of the sport here were in for a special Chinese menu.
Xu Xin has now won the title four times and thus equals the record of Ma Long, the only other player to record a quartet of wins. 
"Every time I have come to Dubai I have won a major title, so this is definitely my lucky and special place", said Xu, "This does not mean it is easier now to make it to Rio. The team has to be finalised first, then I can say I am on my way there."
All the four finalists now have earned automatic entries to the next world cup.

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