Yu Mengyu, Feng Tianwei into QFs at Rio
The national paddlers have a great chance of delivering yet another Olympic medal after both Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu won their women's singles fourth round tie at the Riocentro Pavilion 3 to qualify for the quarter-finals.
If both can win their next match against lower-ranked opponents, Team Singapore will be assured of at least a bronze medal even if they lose their respective semi-final matches as they will meet each other in the bronze-medal playoff.
Early this morning, world No. 4 and second seed Feng cruised past Austria's world No. 25 and 16th seed Liu Jia 4-1 (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 11-4) in 42 minutes.
Next up, the London 2012 bronze medalist will play Japan's world No. 8 and sixth seed Ai Fukuhara at 10pm tonight for a place in the semi-finals. Between the duo, Feng holds a much superior head-to-head record, winning 14 of 17 previous meetings.
The 29-year-old Singaporean was never in trouble in the first three games, in which Liu had the lead just once after winning the opening point.
Looking down and out and shaking her head in despair, the 34-year-old Liu did muster a brief fightback when she relied on solid serves to take down the fourth game 11-6.
However, Feng's class shone through as she swiftly despatched her opponent, allowing her just four points in the fifth and final game.
Feng Tianwei of Singapore reacts during her match against Jia Liu of Austria. PHOTO: REUTERS
It was a much-improved performance compared to her first match at this Olympics nine-and-a-half hours ago, when she struggled in her third-round encounter against 53-year-old Luxembourger Ni Xia Lian, who was part of China's winning mixed doubles and women's team at the 1983 World Table Tennis Championships.
Feng lost her first two games against the left-handed, pen-grip paddler before recovering to win 4-2, and looked like she had shaken off the ringrust and nerves against Liu.
Meanwhile, Singapore's world no. 13 and ninth seed Yu also triumphed 4-1 in the fourth round as she demonstrated superb mental strength and even more remarkable ruthlessness in using just four game points to see off world No. 11 South Korean 12-10, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-2.
Playing in her first Olympics, the 26-year-old Singaporean was initially troubled by her opponent's unique left-hand grip and powerful backhands to fall behind 5-10 in the first game. But showing great heart, she bounced back with seven straight points to fire the opening salvo.
Jeon, also a naturalised China-born athlete, rebounded to take the second game 11-8 and looked to have seized the initiative when she led 9-7 in the third, only for Yu to again pinch the game 12-10.
Yu would not let her lead slip again as she took the fourth game 11-7, and finished with a flourish, taking the first eight points of the fifth before sealing the match with a comprehensive 11-2 win.
She will face world No. 50 and 27th seed, North Korean Kim Song I for a coveted place in the final four.
Earlier, defensive player Kim had caused the biggest upset of this Olympics' table tennis competition when she outlasted world No. 6 and fourth seed Kasumi Ishikawa 4-3 in the third round, before beating Taiwan's Chen Szu Yu 4-2 in the fourth round.
Yu and Kim have met just once previously in February's World Team Table Tennis Championships, with the latter coming from behind to win 3-2 in the rubber game to lead her country into the semi-finals at the Republic's expense.