by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Suthasini Sawettabut recovered from a three games to one deficit against Congo Brazzaville’s Han Xing to emerge victorious (11-9, 10-12, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9), before Nanthana Komwong also fought back from adversity.
However, her efforts were by no means as dramatic. She lost the opening game when facing Egypt’s Dina Meshref before claiming the next four to secure victory (7-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-9).
“It was really very difficult to play against Han Xing; she uses short pimples on the backhand and plays so fast”, said Suthasini Sawettabut. “It was vital that I tried to top spin the ball as much as possible; at 10-9 in the seventh game I told myself to focus and stay calm.”
In the cauldron of Riocentro 3, Suthasini Sawettabut, playing in her first ever Olympic Games controlled her emotions; likewise, Nanthana Komwong competing in her fifth, her first being in Sydney in 2000, was equally the model of self-control.
“I’m really pleased how I played today; there are so many spectators, when I came into the hall I was afraid”, explained Nanthana Komwong. “After I lost the first game I just focused on trying to play one point at a time, put the ball on the table; it’s the first time that I’ve played Dina, I didn’t know her or how she would play, she is very good from the backhand.”
Success from Adriana Diaz
Success for Suthasini Sawettabut, playing in her first Olympic Games; there was also success for another young lady on debut.
Puerto Rico’s 15 year old Adriana Diaz recovered from a two games to one deficit to beat Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike in six games (11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-2).
“I tried to stay calm and started to attack her forehand, because she uses pimples on her backhand and I am not good against that style”, said Adriana Diaz, who like compatriot Brian Afanador earlier in the day, had responded the supporters who had travelled from the Puerto Rican island.
“There were many people shouting and supporting; that encouraged me to shout and celebrate with them”, said Adriana Diaz. “I am very happy that they are here, because Table Tennis isn’t very popular in my country.”
Frankly I’m not sure about that; Basketball and Baseball might head the list but I would put Table Tennis next!
Disappointment for Africa and there was more, Egypt’s Nadeen El-Dawlatly was beaten in four straight games by Hungary’s Petra Lovas (11-6, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7), Nigeria’s Offiond Edem experienced defeat at the hands of Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus (5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4).
Furthermore, there was defeat for the host nation despite the vocal efforts of the almost capacity crowd trying to will Caroline Kumahara to success against Luxemburg’s Ni Xialian. She experienced a seven games defeat, notably saving four match points in the decider (12-10, 14-16, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-3, 14-12).
Meanwhile, in the one remaining first round Women’s Singles match, Alexandra Privalova of Belarus eventually overcame Iran’s Neda Shahsavari (11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-5).