China's star paddler Liu one step away from record 5th World Cup triumph

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-20 16:38:11|Editor: xuxin
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CHENGDU, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- China's Liu Shiwen moved to within one match away from winning a record fifth title in the ITTF World Cup after she beat American wildcard entrant Lily Zhang and set up an all-Chinese final against Zhu Yuling here on Sunday.

The 28-year-old former world No. 1 breezed past Lily Zhang in straight sets, 11-6, 11-1, 11-5, 11-5.

"It went smoothly as expected, since I've prepared so well for the whole tournament and carried all out of my strategy for the semifinal matchup against Zhang," said Liu, who's ranked the world No. 5 in the latest ITTF women's singles standings.

Liu was highly praised by her opponent as the 23-year-old Zhang disclosed in the mixed zone that she's a big fan of Liu and had followed Liu's game since she's very young.

"It's so cool that I could have stood at the other end of the table and played against Liu at a formal event as big as the World Cup," said Zhang, an American-born Chinese who's raised in California.

"She's way better than me as a paddler, playing very high level table tennis. I learn a lot from her through the match that I lost," added the six-time national champion of the United States.

Liu triumphed at the world championships in Budapest last April and was the World Cup title holder in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015, matching retired Wang Nan and Zhang Yining as the most decorated World Cup winners.

"The World Cup is a very important event. For me, it's as important as the Olympic table tennis competitions and the world championships," Liu said at the sideline of the tournament's training site on Friday before she paddled off her campaign in the main draw.

"I want to win every tournament that I participate in, no matter there's a record to break or not. I'll do my best in every match here and pushing hard forward to my final goal -- to step on the highest position of the podium," she said then.

Talking about the final against the 2017 World Cup winner Zhu Yuling later on Sunday, Liu expected a tough battle ahead.

"Zhu's very strong. But I hope I can enjoy the match and focus on my own play," she said.

The 24-year-old Zhu denied a half-way comeback from Singapore veteran Feng Tianwei and won over the 33-year-old 11-1, 11-13, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 to reach the final at the 250,000 U.S. dollars annual event.