Feng achieves top-four target at World Cup
Singapore paddler two wins away from World Cup triumph
Singapore table tennis star Feng Tianwei achieved her goal of reaching the semi-finals of the women's World Cup in Philadelphia, after beating Germany's Sabine Winter 4-0 (11-7, 15-13, 13-11, 11-9) in the last eight yesterday.
The 30-year-old, who finished third in 2008 and 2013, is on course to better her previous record and played Japan's Miu Hirano in the semi-finals early this morning, with the result unavailable at press time.
Feng is the top seed in the tournament, after Chinese paddlers Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen withdrew, citing sickness and injury.
Feng's teammate Yu Mengyu was also slated to compete in the tournament, but pulled out due to injury.
Feng, ranked sixth in the world, had taken a break after the Rio Olympics in August and resumed training only two weeks ago.
After beating Winter yesterday, Feng told the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) website: "I was able to stay focused right from the start of the match and adjust fast to Winter's aggressive style of play.
"Tomorrow's semi-final match is going to be a very tough one. I hope that I will be able to play my best tomorrow."
Hirano, ranked 17th in the world, made the last four after beating her teammate Mima Ito 4-1 (11-13, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8) in a quarter-final tie.
The 16-year-old Japanese player said: "I am very happy, I played this match very well.
"In the semi-finals I will play against Feng Tianwei; I have lost to her previously but, tomorrow, I will do my best to win."
Taiwan's Cheng I-ching met Hong Kong's Tie Yana in the other semi-final, also played this morning.
Feng is the favourite to win the tournament and will be relishing her chances as she has a favourable head-to-head record against the three other paddlers in the semi-finals.
She beat Hirano 4-2 in the Asian Cup earlier this year and owns a 9-3 record against Tie, whom she has not lost to since 2011.
PRESSURE GOT TO FENG
Feng also has a 3-1 record over Cheng, although their last meeting at the Japan Open in June ended in a 4-2 loss for the Singaporean.
A World Cup title will go some way to lifting the Singaporean's spirits, after the Republic's women's table team came home from the Olympics empty-handed, following a silver in 2008 in Beijing and two bronzes at the London 2012 Games.
Feng, Yu and Zhou Yihan lost 3-1 to Japan in the battle for team bronze, while Feng was whitewashed 4-0 by Japan's Ai Fukuhara in the singles quarter-finals.
Upon her return, Feng said she didn't handle properly the pressure of delivering another Olympic medal, which led to her two defeats in the team battle.
I was able to stay focused right from the start of the match and adjust fast to Winter’s aggressive style of play. Tomorrow’s semi-final match is going to be a very tough one. I hope that I will be able to play my best tomorrow.
— Singapore table tennis star Feng Tianwei