Bittersweet day for paddlers in Thailand
S'pore's mixed doubles duo beaten in final but Feng raises cheer with q-final win
It was a bittersweet day for Singapore's paddlers at the Asian Table Tennis Championships in Thailand yesterday.
The Republic's mixed doubles pair of Yang Zi and Yu Mengyu were bidding to win the country's first-ever title in that event in the tournament, but lost 11-8, 11-3, 11-5, 11-9 to China's Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng in the final last night.
But Singapore's top paddler, world No. 7 Feng Tianwei, provided her teammates with much cheer, as she defied odds to beat world No. 2 Liu Shiwen 4-2 (11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 13-11) in the women's singles quarter-finals.
The 29-year-old Singaporean had been struggling with a back injury, suffered last week in the women's team event, and had opted to play on in the women's singles event after dropping out of the women's doubles competition earlier this week.
The 2012 Olympic women's singles bronze medallist eked out a 4-3 (8-11, 11-1, 8-11, 11-13, 11-4, 11-1, 11-1) win over North Korea's Cha Hyo Sim in the Round of 16 earlier in the day.
After her earlier win, Feng said: "In games that I lost, I had the initial lead but then I guessed I wanted to end the game too fast and that resulted in too many errors from my side.
"I figured that patience was the key to winning, as she was always ready to engage in rallies; I tried to settle my mind and play consistently, that worked well and I was then able to win the last two games relatively faster."
Of Feng's quarter-final, women's national coach Jing Junhong said: "Because of her injury, Tianwei played with a slower tempo and was more in control of her game.
"As a result, there weren't many weak points that her opponent could exploit, and she also couldn't get used to Tianwei's tempo.
"It was not easy for her today, and it was a very good day for her."
Feng is the only non-Chinese paddler left in the women's singles and will face Chen Meng in the semi-finals today.
But the Singaporean is already assured of a bronze in the absence of third-place play-offs in this tournament, and has a chance to surpass ex-teammate Li Jiawei's bronze showing in 2005.
Meanwhile, Yang Zi, 31, was happy with the silver medal he won with Yu, 26, in the mixed doubles.
The pair upset Chinese duo Fang Bo and Mu Zi earlier in the competition, and advanced to last night's final after their 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 11-9, 13-15, 15-13 win over North Korea duo Choe Il and Ri Mi Gyong earlier yesterday.
Yang Zi said: "I think we played to our standards today, Mengyu wasn't at her best physical condition today and the Chinese pair were gunning for us since we beat their teammates earlier in the competition."
"We tried strategies we have never played with before in the last set and it worked for a while but, in the end, the Chinese were still too strong," added Yang Zi, who won the men's doubles title in this tournament in 2012 with Gao Ning.
"But I am very happy to have achieved a medal in this event."
- Round of 32 Clarence Chew lost to Zhang Jike (Chn) 6-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7 Yang Zi lost to Jung Young Sik (Kor) 7-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-5, 6-11, 11-9
- Round of 16 Yu Mengyu lost to Mima Ito (Jpn) 11-3, 11-8, 11-7, 11-0