Deng Yaping, the perfect record
Back on the road again, now there is a return to international action. Commencing on Sunday 8th November, the 2020 Women’s World Cup marks the restart; a period of 238 days since matters concluded at the ITTF Challenge Oman Open in Muscat on Sunday 15th March and the world went into lockdown.
Moreover, it is 8,808 days, that is 24 years, one month and 12 days since the now prestigious tournament witnessed the first ball being hit in anger; the occasion was on Saturday 28th September 1996 in Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
A first, it was also a swansong, the twilight of a remarkable career not only in table tennis, also in sport. China’s Deng Yaping, on her one and only appearance in the tournament, emerged the winner. Later in the year in Tianjin, she won the women’s singles title at the inaugural ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals and thus completed the full house, having earlier been anointed both Olympic Games gold medallist and World champion.
Four groups in the initial stage of proceedings in Hong Kong, 23 years old at the time, matches best of three games, each game to 21 points, Deng Yaping finished in first place, all three encounters witnessing straight games successes. She accounted for the host association’s Chan Tan Lui, German’s Jie Schöpp and Nigeria’s Bosse Kaffo to reserve her place in the quarter-finals.
Impressive form not a single blemish; in the main draw it was exactly the same. Matches best of five games, there was no charity, three-nil was the score-line as she overcame Singapore’s Jing Jun Hong, Sweden’s Marie Svensson and colleague, Yang Ying, to seal the title.
Thus Deng Yaping set the standard; alongside compatriot, Ding Ning, they are the only players to compete in the Women’s World Cup and never lose a match. Ding Ning won on each of her three appearances in the competition - 2011 (Singapore), 2014 (Linz), 2018) Chengdu – overall losing just 10 games.
Likewise, Deng Yaping is one of only two players to secure the title and never lose a single game; the other was Zhang Yining, also from China, in 2001 in Wuhu.
Thus add the two achievements together, the outcome: Deng Yaping is the only player never to have lost a single game in the Women’s World Cup.
Now, in 2020, listed in top spot on the world rankings, just as was the situation for Deng Yaping in 1996, Chen Meng makes her debut in the competition. Can she match Deng Yaping and thus become only the second player with the perfect record?
Now that is some task!
Editor: Ian Marshall