A smile on the face of Sun Bei Bei despite defeat
Photo By: Marcio Rodrigues
2007 LIEBHERR Brazilian Open (Click here to access this section)
Japanís Ai Fukuhara beat Singaporeís Sun Bei Bei at the semi-final stage of the Womenís Singles event at the Liebherr Brazilian Open in Belo Horizonte on Sunday 15th April 2007.
Attacking strongly from both backhand and forehand she won in four straight games, succeeding 11-5, 11-8, 11-2, 11-6.
It was the second time that the pair had met on the ITTF Pro Tour, it was the second time that Ai Fukuhara had won.
Furthermore, it was the second time she had won in four straight games. In the second round of the Womenís Singles event at the Liebherr German Open in November 2006 she had succeeded in similar impressive style.
It was a very focused and determined Ai Fukuhara who made the better start, in trademark style she attacked quickly giving her adversary little time to respond. In particular it was the quick attacks from the backhand that forced passive replies from Sun Bei Bei.
The rallies were short and the first game went to Japan 11-5.
Serving predominantly with the forehand, a high thrown service was the favoured option and a squeal of glee when she won a point.
The highly motivated Ai Fukuhara moved into a 4-2 lead in the second game. The plan for Sun Bei Bei was clear, if Ai Fukuhara attacked quickly with the backhand, the Singapore player was in trouble, therefore attacking the forehand was the tactic.
However, the speed of Ai Fukuhara caused Sun Bei Bei endless problems, Ai Fukuhara gave her adversary minimal time to react; Ai Fukuhara was in the fast lane. She won the second game 11-8.
Sun Bei Bei had to try to slow matters down; in fast rallies Ai Fukuhara was in control, heavy topspin not speed was the order of the day for the lady from Singapore.
She tried but in the third game she made mistakes, Ai Fukuhara played error free and moved into a 6-0 lead. A high thrown forehand service time and again, then a fast attack, Sun Bei Bei had no time to draw breath, she was clutching at straws.
Furthermore, Ai Fukuhara made full use of the table, wide to the forehand, then wide to the backhand, then down the middle and it was point over. The Japanese teenager was in the zone. She won the third game 11-2.
One player was full of self-belief; the other was full of doubt. The writing was on the wall. It was just a matter of time before the execution was completed.
However, Sun Bei Bei was not going to lie down, she was prepared to fight and in the fourth game sped into a 6-2 lead; Ai Fukuhara re-grouped, she won the next three points forcing the Singapore camp to call `Time Outí.
The break worked in favour Ai Fukuhara, she never lost another point. She won the game 11-6 and was in her first ever Womenís Singles final on the ITTF Pro Tour.