Feng crashes out to Japanese teen
World No. 6 narrowly loses to Japanese teenager, who also beat her at World Cup in October
Different venue, same opponent, same outcome.
Singapore's top-ranked paddler Feng Tianwei crashed out of the International Table Tennis Federation World Tour Grand Finals in Doha yesterday after a 4-3 (11-6, 11-4, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 5-11, 4-11) first-round loss to Japan's Miu Hirano.
The 16-year-old also beat world No. 6 Feng in the Women's World Cup in October, en route to becoming the youngest winner of the competition.
In that competition, Feng, 30, led the Japanese world No. 11 2-1 before losing the semi-final tie 4-2 in the United States.
Last night, the Singaporean got off to a flying start after comfortably winning the first two games.
But Hirano picked up the pace in the third game and outmatched Feng's attacking game at times to put the tie level at 2-2 after the fourth game.
Feng, a three-time Olympic medallist, rallied back to win the fifth game 11-7, to lead 3-2, but she simply had no reply to Miu's speed in the last two games.
Feng was without a coach by her side last night, which can be crucial in major tournaments, as trainers would at times advise players on game strategies during stoppages.
The absence of a coach was down to the split betwen her and the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), after the national sports association announced in late October that the Harbin-born paddler will no longer be part of the national team.
Despite the loss, Feng felt that her performance was "not bad".
"I am still in the midst of recovering (my form), so tonight (my performance) was not bad," she told The New Paper via a text message last night.
"My training in the last two and a half months hadn't been too systematic and structured, and now I have to slowly make up for it."