by Kabir Nagpal
2009, Guangzhou: the first in a long series for Liu
The 2009 Volkswagen Women’s World Cup was held in Guangzhou, where 18-year-old Liu Shiwen took the world by storm, beating her senior Chinese compatriot, Guo Yue, in a stunning way. The score line was 4-3 (11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-3, 3-11, 11-3) in favor of the rookie, who won his first-ever Cup of the world gold medal.
For Guo, the 2008 Olympic Games women’s team champion, it was about losing the first game, which gave her opponent an apparent confidence that she clearly used. It was a tied battle as the scores finally approached 3-3 and the decider was needed. Liu introduced her class – which we’ve seen so many times since – and started her journey to becoming the competition’s most successful female athlete.
2011, Singapore: Ding follows the example
After seeing his colleague proceed at a young age, Ding Ning followed Liu Shiwen’s lead. She beat Li Xiaoxia – world No. 1 at the time – Ding had previously won the world title in Rotterdam.
The two Chinese players wowed the crowd, but it was thanks to Ding’s supremely incredible forehands that helped her dominate in a 4-1 (11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 14-12, 11-9). She became only the fourth female athlete to win the World Table Tennis Singles Championships and the World Cup title; its predecessors being Deng Yaping, Wang Nan and Zhang Yining.
2014, Linz: Ding dominates outside Asia
Six years ago, the Women’s World Cup ventured out of Asia for the very first time – reaching Linz in Austria. However, it was a familiar character who ultimately won the trophy – the Chinese Ding Ning.
In a re-match of the 2011 final against Li Xiaoxia, Ding again gained the upper hand, winning in consecutive matches (11-7, 11-9, 13-11, 11-5). There was a maturity in her handling of the final, as she did not allow her opponent to recover even a match as she had done three years before. Establishing herself as the best female table tennis athlete of the time, Ding Ning truly wore the crown of “Queen of Hearts”.
2016, Philadelphia: a year for history
As the Women’s World Cup ventured further west than ever before, new waves in the competition began to flow. One of these was the emergence of a younger generation in the limelight, most notably Miu Hirano, 16, from Japan.
“It’s like a dream. I am extremely happy to win the title. I hope I can get something for my family, coaches and friends in Japan. »Miu Hirano
Acclimating and savoring the opportunity, Hirano won the title in Philadelphia after representing Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching in the most impressive way. The teenage sensation won in four straight games (11-9, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8) and in doing so became the only non-Chinese winner of the tournament in history.
2017, Markham: End of the line
You know it’s an amazing final when one player has never lost a game in tournament history – and the other is determined to make sure that record is maintained.
Liu Shiwen faced Zhu Yuling in what was arguably the closest Women’s World Cup final of all time, as Zhu clinched the top step of the podium after an incredible seven games. Winner 4-3 (11-13, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10), she saved a critical match point in the vital seventh game which made the crowd bite their fingernails.