World No. 1 paddlers Sun, Fan crowned world champions

Men's singles champion Fan Zhendong (L) of China and women's singles champion

Sun Yingsha of China pose with their trophies at 2023 ITTF Table Tennis World Championships Finals in Durban, South Africa, May 28, 2023. (Xinhua/Tao Xiyi)

World No. 1 Sun Yingsha and Fan Zhendong of China emerged victorious in the women's and men's singles respectively at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) Finals on Sunday.

In the all-Chinese finals, Sun made a career breakthrough by lifting her first World Championships singles trophy after defeating Olympic champion Chen Meng 4-2, while Fan retained his title with a 4-2 victory over Wang Chuqin.

With a narrow 5-4 lead across their previous head-to-heads, Chen grabbed an early foothold in the title showdown, moving one game ahead with a convincing 11-5 win.

However, Sun, who had fallen to teammate Wang Manyu 4-2 at the last hurdle two years ago in Houston, clawed back through her advantage in the rallies, taking a 3-1 lead by triumphing 11-8, 11-7, 11-7.

29-year-old Chen didn't succumb to her inferior position, pulling one game back at 11-7, but a determined Sun managed to close out an 11-6 victory in the sixth game.

Sun fell to the ground in celebration and walked to hug her elder teammate, before the two carried China's national flag to the cheers of a capacity crowd at the Durban International Convention Center.

China thus won the women's singles title for the 15th consecutive time at the Table Tennis Worlds, a stretch dating back to 1995.

Fellow Chinese paddler Chen Xingtong and Japan's Hina Hayata settled for bronze medals in the women's singles.

Later on Sunday, Fan dispatched Wang 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10, 11-13, 11-3 in a clash of the top two seeds.

Fan had a big chance to secure his win in five games, but wasted five match points as Wang showcased his tenacity and had a glimpse of turning the tables.

But Fan raced into a 7-1 lead in the sixth game and didn't allow Wang to come back on his way to the crown.

This is China's 10th straight men's singles crown, a run dating back to 2005.

China's Ma Long and Liang Jingkun shared the men's singles bronze medals.