Guo Yue beat Li Jiao in the opening match against the Netherlands to set China on course for victory
Photo By: An Sung Ho
China and Japan, the top two seeds in the Women’s Team event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, both duly booked their places in the penultimate stage of proceedings, following quarter-final wins on the afternoon of Saturday 4th August.
Both recorded three matches to nil victories.
Seeded no.1, China overcame the Netherlands; whilst on the adjacent table, Japan ended the hopes of Germany.
Once again, as happened time and time again in the past half century and more in the international arena, Asian excellence prevailed; for Europe it was a case of what might have been.
The Effect on Ding Ning
The Chinese trio comprising Guo Yue, Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia was never in serious danger of defeat; although Ding Ning was extended to four games by the defensive skills of Li Jie.
One can only wonder the effect, the defeat in the Women’s Singles final against Li Xiaoxia, has had on Ding Ning; a contest in which she was faulted on her serve and received a yellow and red card, resulting in the loss of a point.
At the 2012 London Olympic Games, the outgoing smiling Ding Ning is now somewhat subdued.
She beat Li Jie (11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7) but one wonders what agonies she is suffering.
However, for her compatriots there were fewer problems in the contest against the Netherlands.
Guo Yue accounted for Li Jiao in the opening match of the fixture in three straight games (11-9, 11-7, 14-12); whilst Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia brought matters to a close.
Undoubtedly, the best female doubles partnership in the world; they beat the defenders, Li Jie and Elena Timina in three straight games (11-4, 11-8, 11-9).
Match Point Saved
A three-nil victory for China and it was the same for Japan but it could have been very different.
One can only surmise of what might have been; in the first match on court, Wu Jiaduo held match point at 10-9 in the seventh game against Wu Jiaduo.
It was saved and on her second match point, Kasumi Ishikawa converted.
She beat Wu Jiaduo 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 6-11, 13-11.
Had crucial point been won by the German, how might that have affected Ai Fukuhara in her contest against Irene Ivancan in the second match of the fixture?
The defensive style employed by Irene Ivancan combined with the ability to attack makes her a difficult opponent; especially for Ai Fukuhara who has experienced problems against defensive players in the past.
Ai Fukuhara Responded
Irene Ivancan won the first game, before Ai Fukuhara responded to capture the next three; all closely fought.
The win recorded by Kasumi Ishikawa had slightly relieved the pressure on the shoulders of Ai Fukuhara but what if she had not saved that vital match point? We will never know.
Ai Fukuhara won 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7.
Mountain to Climb
The win recorded by Ai Fukuhara meant that Germany had a mountain to climb; confidence had grown in the Japanese camp as a result of the success, a fact crystal clear in the doubles.
Sayaka Hirano partnered Ai Fukuhara in the doubles; the duo accounting for Kristin Silbereisen and Wu Jiaduo in straight games to secure a Japanese victory (11-8, 11-5, 11-7).
At the semi-final stage China meets the winners of the duel between Hong Kong and Korea; Japan confronts the victors of the contest involving Singapore and DPR Korea.