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Monday, January 31, 2011

Chen Qi Wins English Open 2011 Men’s Crown (sources from ittf.com)

Chen Qi back to winning ways Photo By: tabletennisphotos.com

01/30/2011 2011 English Open - ITTF Pro Tour

In November 2009 Chen Qi left the city of Sheffield, disappointed.

The memories of the English Open in the city renowned for steel and its football clubs named United and Wednesday were not the happiest.

Just under 14 months later, the reflections of having competed in a tournament steeped in history, were of a much different nature.

Seeded no.7, Chen Qi beat Chinese national team colleague, Ma Lin, the no.2 seed in five games to arrest the prestigious title.

Chen Qi won 11-5, 11-4, 11-13, 14-12, 11-4.

Same Again
Once again, as on Sunday 1st November 2009, it was runners up spot for Ma Lin; in 2009 he lost to Ma Long in the final, now in 2011 to Chen Qi.

It was déjà vu for Ma Lin but for Chen Qi, the pain of 2009 was eliminated with an injection of pleasure, as the talented left hander laid to rest the ghosts of the English Institute of Sport.

Third Round Exit
On Saturday 31st October 2009, Chen Qi was beaten in the third round of the Men’s Singles event by the in form Seiya Kishikawa of Japan; it was the upset of the round and the Japanese star was to gain great confidence from that victory.

He progressed to beat Germany’s Timo Boll in the quarter-finals before finding the wizardry of Ma Lin too much in the penultimate round.

The victory for Chen Qi is somewhat overdue and he had brought himself back in contention for a place in the Chinese team at the 2012 Olympic Games.

In many ways he is like Xu Xin, outstanding at doubles and with a record that speaks for itself; especially with Ma Lin with who he won the Olympic title in 2004 and the world title in 2007; two years later he won again, this time with Wang Hao.

London Olympic Games
Clearly Wang Hao and Ma Lin are both successful with Chen Qi as their doubles partner; now more performances like the one seen in Sheffield could well tip the scales in Chen Qi’s favour for selection.

Ma Long, Wang Liqin, Zhang Jike and Xu Xin may have other ideas but the win for Chen Qi at the English Open could well be a turning point and in 2008 at the Beijing Olympic Games, he was reserve for the Chinese Men’s Team.

Barren Time
However, since losing in the final of the Liebherr Men’s World Cup to Vladimir Samsonov in October 2009, by his own high standards Chen Qi has not enjoyed the best of fortunes and has not been high on the selection list.

The best in 2010 was a semi-final exit at the German Open beaten by Ma Long after having defeated the host nation’s Timo Boll in the quarter-finals.

He was not included in the Chinese Men’s Team for the Liebherr World Team Championships in Moscow and his only other appearance on the ITTF Pro Tour was at the Harmony China Open, where he departed in round three beaten by Ma Lin.

Great Ability
There is no questioning the talent of Chen Qi, he can produce the ridiculous and in Sheffield, he displayed that talent to the full.

It was his first Men’s Singles title on the ITTF Pro Tour since 2007 when he won consecutive crowns in Russia and Austria and it was his fourth overall, his one other win being in Japan in 2004.

Second Win
Meanwhile, in confrontations between Chen Qi and Ma Lin, it was only his second victory in world ranking events over the reigning Olympic Men’s Singles champion in nine meetings.

The one previous win was in at the quarter-final stage of the Japan Open in 2004, a tournament Chen Qi went on to win.

Won Crucial Points
In Sheffield, the final itself was arguably closer than the score line reflects but Chen Qi seemed to have the upper hand at the critical points showing composure and resolve that he clearly lacked in previous encounters against Ma Lin.

In Sheffield in what was the 26 year olds 55th appearance on the ITTF Pro Tour he beat Ma Lin once again and once again won the tournament.

Ma Lin was once again the Men’s Singles runner up at the English Open

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