Reigning World champions, China’s Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia imposed their authority on proceedings as matters commenced on the concluding day of play, Sunday 27th November 2011, at the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals in London’s ExCel Arena.
They overcame the Singapore partnership of Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu in five games (11-5, 11-3, 11-7, 5-11 11-7), to book their place in the final. An impressive performance by the Chinese duo and an equally impressive performance emanated from the rackets of Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa.
In clinical style, they posted a five games win (11-3, 11-2, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8) over the Korean duo comprising Seok Ha Jung and Yang Ha Eun.
One Game Surrendered The meeting in the ExCel Arena was the third in international competition involving Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia in opposition to Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu.
Furthermore, all three previous meetings had been won by the Chinese partnership and they had been won most comfortably, in fact only one game had been surrendered; that was in their first meeting when in November 2007, Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia succeeded in five games in their semi-final clash at the German Open.
No Charity However, on their next two meetings there was no such charity.
Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia won in four straight games when the pairs met at the penultimate stage of the Women’s Doubles event at the Volkswagen Pro Tour Grand Finals in December 2007; whilst at the World Team Cup Classic in Dubai in October 2010, they succeeded when joining forces in the final of the Women’s Team event.
Same Again In the ExCel Arena, there was no charity, no charity whatsoever.
Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia captured the first two games in quick-fire style. They went ahead 8-6 in the third game; Singaporean coach Zhou Sushen called “Time Out”.
It was only a temporary stay of execution; there was no stopping Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia. A three games to nil lead was soon established.
Recovery Halted A straight games verdict seemed imminent but it was not to be; Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu recovered to secure the fourth game they took some risks and they took their chances.
Alas for Singapore there was to be no memorable recovery; Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia sought advice from Shi Zhihao, the Head Coach of the Chinese Women’s Team and duly closed the door. A place in the final was booked.
First Meeting Meanwhile, for Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa it was the first timer they had ever opposed Seok Ha Jung and Yang Ha Eun on the international scene.
The first meeting but certainly the duo of Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa was totally prepared.
Harder Work They surrendered just five points in the first two games before being made to work much harder in the third game; a closer third game but the same outcome; Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa held a three games to nil lead.
Match Points Saved In the fourth game, Kasumi Ishikawa and Kasumi Ishikawa were on the very brink of victory. The led 10-8, four match points; somewhat surprisingly, the Korean duo saved the two match points and then the next two points to win the game.
However, there was to be no Korean recovery; the sixth game was close with Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa establishing a 10-7 lead.
Success at Third Attempt The first match point was saved, Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa decided on discretion; they took a “Time Out”.
It proved a wise move; Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa secured the next point; a place in the final was booked