Feng wins first title since split with STTA
Singapore's top-ranked paddler victorious at Korea Open - her first title since parting ways with STTA
The South Korean city of Incheon has witnessed the highs and the lows of Feng Tianwei's career in the last six years.
In 2011, the Singaporean paddler won the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) ProTour Korea Open women's singles title, with a 4-0 (11-4, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8) thrashing of home favourite Moon Hyunjung.
Feng then went on to win the women's singles bronze at the London Olympics the next year.
The world No. 3's return to the city in 2014 was a mixed bag though - Feng lost 3-2 to Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa in the second match of the Asian Games women's team semi-finals, and Singapore eventually lost 3-2 to their opponents, although the Harbin-born Singaporean clinched a women's singles bronze.
Yesterday, Feng, 30, returned to her winning ways in Incheon, after beating Japan's Ishikawa 4-2 (12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-9) in the Korea Open final.
When Ishikawa, the world No. 6 paddler, sent her last shot well wide, Feng pumped both fists in the air and let out an impassioned victory cry.
"Before the match, I felt very nervous, but very excited at the same time to be reaching the women's singles final," Feng told the ITTF website after the match.
"I am just happy I could win."
She also said in a post on her Facebook page: "Many thanks to Singapore National Olympic Council and the Singapore Sports Institute's (Sports Excellence) Scholarship for all the support given to me.
"Thank you, Singapore Table Tennis Association, for giving me the chance to compete."
The Korea Open title was Feng's first since she parted ways with the Singapore Table Tennis Association in October last year.
Since then, she has been training and competing on her own, without a fixed team of coaches, sparring partners and support staff.
"At the moment, I don't practise with the national team in Singapore although I live there," she told ittf.com.
"I am practising in different clubs and with different private sparring partners. Sometimes I even go to China for training."
The victory yesterday was also significant because of who her opponent was.
While Feng owned a 9-5 head-to-head record against Ishikawa before yesterday's tie, Feng had lost the last two ties against the dimunitive Japanese paddler.
After the 2014 Asiad loss, Ishikawa thrashed Feng 3-0 (12-10, 11-6, 11-7) in the second match of the Olympic women's team bronze-medal tie against Japan last year, as the Republic fell 3-1 to finish fourth.