Ding Ning gave China the perfect start by beating Feng Tianwei
Photo By: Rémy Gros
LIEBHERR 2012 World Team Table Tennis Championships
Silver medallists two years earlier, China laid the ghosts of the Olimpijsky Sports Complex in the Moscow suburb of Luzhniki, to rest in Dortmund’s Westfalenhallen on Sunday 1st April 2012.
They overcame Singapore by three matches to nil in the final of the Women's event at the LIEBHERR World Team Championships and thus gained revenge for the unexpected defeat suffered in Russia’s capital city.
Once again the Corbillon Cup belonged to China.
Video Interviews: Ding Ning and Guo Yue
Ding Ning opened proceedings by beating Feng Tianwei (14-12, 8-11, 11-4, 11-3), Li Xiaoxia followed suit by overcoming Wang Yuegu (11-9, 11-13, 12-10, 11-5) with Guo Yue completing matters by defeating Li Jiawei (11-8, 11-6, 11-9).
There was a distinctive atmosphere at the start of the Men’s Team Final; it was one of anticipated euphoria if Germany, on home soil, could pull off the unexpected.
In the Women’s Team final there was also a distinctive atmosphere; could Singapore repeat the Moscow miracle?
It was an atmosphere that seemed to have an effect on Ding Ning; since losing to Feng Tianwei in the final two years ago in Moscow, whenever Ding Ning and Feng Tianwei have met, the decision has always gone in favour of Ding Ning and always comparatively comfortably.
In the opening match of the contest, Ding Ning faced Feng Tianwei; the tension was apparent. Ding Ning was never able to assert a commanding lead but eventually she succeeding in winning the game by the minimal two point margin.
Imprtance of Occasion Evident
Again in the second game, the importance of the occasion was very evident; Ding Ning, the reigning Women’s Singles World champion could not assert her authority on proceedings.
Feng Tianwei fought, directed the majority of her attacking strokes towards the Ding Ning backhand; she secured the game to level matters.
However, in the third game Ding Ning did impose her authority; she won the first ten points without a reply! The tide had turned and tide irrepressibly in favour of Ding Ning; just as she had dominated the third game, so she dominated the fourth.
China held the lead, the nerves on the team bench were quelled somewhat.
Heroine Enters Fray
Next into the cauldron came the Singapore heroine, the delightful Wang Yuegu; the player who against both Germany and Korea, at the quarter and semi-final stages respectively, had been required to play in the vital concluding match of the contests to secure victory for Singapore.
Twice she had succeeded, twice in five games.
She was the next on court, she faced Li Xiaoxia.
Similar to the start of the contest between Ding Ning and Feng Tianwei; there were nervous moments for Li Xiaoxia at the beginning of the duel. She could not establish a flowing rhythm as Wang Yuegu, clearly confident, proved very effective by staying close to the table and attacking quickly.
Wang Yuegu, proved particularly effective from the backhand over the table, the side of the racket on which she uses short pimples. The first game went to Li Xiaoxia, the second to Wang Yuegu.
Time Outs Called
In the third game Wang Yuegu went ahead 7-4, clearly having received mental boost after winning the second game; Li Xiaoxia reduced the arrears to 7-6. Zhu Shushen, the Singapore coach, called “Time Out”.
Li Xiaoxia continued her recovery path, she levelled at 9-all; then held one game point at 10-9. It was saved; again at 11-10 she held game point. Shi Zhihao, the Chinese National Women’s Team Coach, called “Time Out”.
It proved a wise move, a squeal from Li Xiaoxia told the story; she won the next point, she led by two games to one.
The success was exactly what Li Xiaoxia need; more relaxed she played more freely. She secured the fourth game.
China was one match away from erasing the Moscow memory.
Memories of Eight Years Ago
Next into the arena came Guo Yue to face Li Xiaoxia; the most experienced of the Chinese trio in World Championships Team finals. She made her debut in 2004 in Doha eight years ago when 15 years old.
On that occasion she beat Zhang Rui in the contest against Hong Kong to secure a three-nil victory for China; in Dortmund she did exactly the same.
Guo Yue captured the first two games in style but in the third trailed 4-1; she recovered to 6-5 in arreras. Zhou Shusen, the Singapore coach called “Time Out”. It gave Li Xiaoxia time to re-assess the situation; it also gave Guo Yue the chance to talk to her coach, Shi Zhihao.
The players returned, Li Jiawei fought for the Singapore cause but it was Guo Yue who emerged successful by the minimal two point margin.
Guo Yue celebrated by throwing her racket in the air in delight, there was a sense of revenge, achievement and relief that the task had been completed; it had been completed and in style.
Also, China celebrated; the Women’s title at the LIEBHERR World Team Championships was duly regained. Two years of hurt were over.
The Chinese Women’s Team on the top step of the medal podium in Dortmund
(left to right) Li Xiaoxia, Ding Ning, Shi Zhihao (coach), Guo Yan, Guo Yue, Liu Shiwen
Photo by Rémy Gros