China too good for Singapore
China too good for Singapore, who will battle Japan for bronze tonight
Singapore's table tennis women proved they had mettle, coming from 2-1 down to beat a fancied South Korea 3-2 in the Rio Olympics women's team quarter-finals on Sunday.
And, for a while last night (Singapore time) against world champions China in the semi-finals, there was hope that Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan could find that steel again.
Feng was matching Li Xiaoxia point for point and Zhou managed some stunning winners after long rallies with an aggressive Ding Ning across the table.
But China proved that they have the extra gear that no other table tennis nation possess.
They stormed past Singapore 3-0 to face Germany in the gold-medal match, while Singapore will face Japan in the bronze-medal play-off at 10pm tonight.
Feng, the world No. 4 who won the singles bronze at the London Olympics four years ago, led Li 8-6 in the first as well as second sets in the opening match, but could not close out either one.
She managed to find something in the third, pulling level with Li at 9-9, but got no joy and lost the match 3-0.
Zhou kept Singapore's hopes alive on Sunday, coming good in a must-win match against South Korea's world No. 18 Suh Hyo Wun.
And it was Zhou again who provided a glimmer of hope against China last night.
A CLASS ABOVE
She dropped the first set 11-7 to Ding, but rallied to claim the second 11-9.
It was then that the China machinery kicked into high gear.
Ding romped to an 11-6 win in the third set, then sprinted to finish the fourth 11-2 to take the match 3-1.
With Feng watching anxiously from the sidelines, Zhou and Yu needed to win the doubles match to keep Singapore in contention.
But the Chinese pair of Ding and Liu Shiwen were a class above.
They dismantled the Singaporean duo with ease in the first two sets, winning 11-4, 11-1 to leave Zhou and Yu running into each other as they scrambled across the table chasing sharp Chinese shots.
Zhou and Yu dug deep in the third set, coming from 9-5 down to within one point of the Chinese pair.
But they left it too late, losing 11-9, and the match 3-0.
Feng, who won the team bronze in 2012 with the now-retired pair of Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu, will be hoping to repeat that against Japan tonight.