Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Second Women’s Doubles Title in the Space of Seven Days for Singapore Duo

One title each to their credit on the ITTF Pro Tour was the scenario for both pairs contesting the Womenís Singles final at the Liebherr German Open in Bayreuth on Sunday 12th November 2006.

The Japanese duo of Ai Fukuhara and Ai Fujinuma had won gold at the TMS Chinese Taipei Open in June 2006, whilst more recently, Li Jia Wei and Sun Bei Bei had won at the Eurosib St Pertersburg Open seven days earlier.
Li Jia Wei and Sun Bei Bei the Women's Doubles champions in Bayreuth
One fact was certain before the final began, one team would add to their tally of titles and that team proved to be Li Jia Wei and Sun Bei Bei.

They won 11-5, 11-6, 6-11, 13-11, 10-12, 12-10.

Good Start
In the first game it was the duo from Singapore who assumed the ascendancy, they won the opening game 11-5 and in the second game made the better start. They went ahead 3-1.

Throughout the early stages Li Jia Wei served with the forehand and of course, she always served short. Earlier in the day, in her Womenís Singles semi-final duel against Ai Fukuhara, she had always served with the backhand. Surely, in doubles, if she served with the backhand, used the reversed rubber side on the racket, she would give Sun Bei Bei more room to play?

It did seem a little strange that a serving technique that she never uses in singles matches was used throughout in the doubles contest.

Whatever the reason, it worked. Perhaps she felt confident that she could keep the service short with backspin. Li Jia Wei and Sun Bei Bei won the second game as comfortably as they had won the first.

In both the first and second games Li Jia Wei and Sun Bei Bei had established an early lead, undoubtedly this had added to their confidence. However, in the early stages of the third game neither team could establish a lead until the score reached 5-all; he stage at which Ai Fukuhara and Ai Fujinuma won three points in row and went on to win the game 11-6.

The start of the fourth game was simlar to the start of the third. Neither pair could establish an advantage until the score reached 4-all when the Singapore duo clinched the next two points.

However, Ai Fukuhra and Ai Fujinuma recovered to 7-6 prompting a Singapore `Time Outí. The break worked in favour of the Japanese who won the next two points by being the superior pair over the table to move ahead 8-7 prompting a change of plan from Li Jia Wei. She served using her backhand and promptly lost the point!

The next two points were shared and then the next two both went the way of Singapore, it was 10-all. A squeal from Ai Fukuhara signalled the winner of the next point; Li Jia Wei returned to the forehand method of serving and the game point was duly saved. It was a crucial stage of the match, the Japanese camp realised this fact and called `Time Outí.

Earlier in the game the Singaporean `Time Outí had gone in favour of Japan, now the Japanese `Time Outí went in favour of Singapore. Li Jia Wei and Sun Bei Bei won the next two points.

Short Points
In the fifth game, Li Jia Wei played towards Ai Fukuhara; at every opportunity she tried to play with heavy topspin into the backhand of the Japanese teenager, the exact same tactic that had proved successful in the Womenís Singles semi-final earlier in the day.

It worked half the time, Ai Fukuhara took heart in hand, she never blocked, she attacked; some went on, some didnít.

The points were brief, few rallies with the two teams level at 7-all. Serving from all four players was executed in deliberate mode, the score moved to 8-all; then Li Jia Wei and Sun Bei Bei won the next two points.

Match Points Saved
Two match points, a fast forehand flick from Ai Fukuhara saved the first and when a Sun Bei Bei forehand topspin finished in the base of the net, it was parity. The next point went to Kapan when a heavy forehand topspin from Ai Fujinuma was blocked off the end of the table by Li Jia Wei.

The Japanese duo was now more positive and when a Sun Bei Bei backhand finished in the base of the net it was game to Japan.

The sixth game was tense, the Singapore had missed an opportunity, the Japanese duo had a glimmer of hope and at 7-4 the latter pairing was progressing tentatively forward. They maintained their three point lead at 9-6 but then lost the next three points as Sun Bei Bei and Li Jia Wei played more positively.

The next two points were shared, then fortune for Singapore, a return from Sun Bei Bei hit the top of the net, trickled over, un-returnable; match point again and this time converted with the best stroke of the match.

Li Jia Wei unleashed a rapier like backhand topspin across the table and it was game over; for the second consecutive week, Li Jia Wei and Sun Bei Bei were champions on the ITTF Pro Tour,

First Previous More-stories
Date Title
11/12/2006 Timo Boll Thrills the Crowds in Bayreuth
11/12/2006 Patrick Chila and Werner Schlager on the Knife Edge as they Win in Bayreuth
11/12/2006 Wang Yue Gu Avenges Defeat of One Week Earlier by Succeeding in Bayreuth
11/12/2006 Timo Boll Recovers from the Brink of Defeat to Win Classic Final in Bayreuth
11/12/2006 Second Women’s Doubles Title in the Space of Seven Days for Singapore Duo
11/12/2006 Top Seeds Through at Liebherr German Open
11/12/2006 Hou Yingchao Continues to Mesmerise as he Succeeds at the Penultimate Stage
11/12/2006 Timo Boll Duly Obliges as the Crowd in Bayreuth Celebrates a Semi-Final Success
11/12/2006 Wang Yue Gu Progresses in the Right Direction and Moves to the Final in Style
11/12/2006 Li Jia Wei Beats Ai Fukuhara to Reach the Women’s Singles Final in Bayreuth
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1 Euro=0,9789 US$