Shen Yanfei in determined mood
Photo By: Tetsu Yamashita
GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour, Japan Open
Immensely disappointed at having suffered defeat at the penultimate stage on home soil in Spain in late April; Shen Yanfei made amends in Kobe on Sunday 10th June.
She won the Women’s Singles title at the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Japan Open eventually overcoming the defensive artistry of Korea’s Kim Kyungah in a gruelling final.
Shen Yanfei won in five games (5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 14-12, 17-15) to secure her second career Tour title.
Two years earlier in 2010 she had won in Korea.
Meanwhile, for Kim Kyungah it was her fourth GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles final; she has now won twice and twice been the runner up.
Silver in Kuwait, Gold in Spain and Chile
Earlier in the year she was the silver medallist in Kuwait losing to China’s Feng Yalan in the final but then in Spain and Chile she was crowned champion.
In the former she overcame colleague Yang Ha Eun in the final, in the latter Singapore’ Li Jiawei.
Second Time in Kobe
Furthermore, it was the second time she had reached the Women’s Singles final on Tour in Japan; ten years earlier in 2002 and also in Kobe she progressed to the final; on that occasion the outcome being better new. She beat Romania’s Mihaela Steff to clinch the title.
Named the ‘Killer’ by Gao Jun of the United States, the player whom Shen Yanfei won the Women’s Doubles title at the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals in 2005 in the Chinese city of Fuzhou, the reason for the name being that Gao Jun made the openings and the Spaniard finishing matters; Shen Yanfei endorsed that name in the second game.
She had made mistakes against the solid defence of Kim Kyungah in the first game but in the second game after making a good start she settled into a rhythm. She grew in confidence.
Controlled attacks from the forehand, the side of the racket on which she uses short pimpled rubber, proved very effective; the drive strokes with a low trajectory caused Kim Kyungah problems.
The ploy of gentle He Zhiwen like top spin strokes, no great pace, no great rotation and then wait for the opportunity to accelerate the stroke, reaped dividends.
Furthermore, Shen Yanfei was patient; rarely did try to win the point quickly; normally trying to negotiate an opening as though involved in an intellectual game of chess.
Attack Best Form of Defence
Shen Yanfei established a two games to one lead but trailed in the fourth game 5-7; she levelled at 7-all after a reaction block from an infrequent Kim Kyungah forehand attack.
Korean coach on duty, Hyun Jung Hwa called ‘Time Out’ but it was Shen Yanfei. Long points followed, Shen Yanfei was prepared to push the ball and wait, Kim Kyungah was prepared to attack.
At 12-all Kim Kyung Ah missed her service; a long point followed with forehand drive from Shen Yanfei ending matters.
The Spaniard led by three games to one.
Chess Match Continues
In the fifth game the chess match continued with Kim Kyungah testing the patience of Shen Yanfei and forcing errors.
It was hard work for the Spaniard, Kim Kyungah established a 10-7 lead, all three game points were saved before Shen Yanfei snatched at a forehand. Another game point to Kim Kyungah; then a long arduous point and again it was arity.
Level again and it was same again, a long point won by Shen Yanfei, match point; it was saved. The score was 12-all.
Every point was long, arduous; each player having chances to win the game.
At 16-15, once again Shen Yanfei held match point; she called ‘Time Out’; retuned to the table and when the chance arose attacked ferociously from the forehand.
Kim Kyungah sped about the court, she returned from here, there and everywhere before eventually succumbing. Shen Yanfei yelled in delight.
Prior the semi-final one day earlier she has spoken to me.
‘Hello, how are you’ she smiled. ‘Get ready, I will win tomorrow.’
She was true to her word.