21 Mar 2017

Bronze medallist at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, Lily Zhang of the United States was very much the player to catch the eye, as matters commenced in the second round of the Women’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on the evening of Saturday 6th August.

She was one of three players to upset the order of merit; the others being Romania’s Daniela Monteiro Dodean and Australia’s Jian Fang Lay.

by Ian Marshall

Daniela Monteiro Dodean beat Poland’s Li Qian, the no.19 seed (12-10, 11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8) to cause the biggest upset of the round, whilst Jian Fang Lay ended the aspirations of Austria’s Sofia Polanova, the no.32 seed (11-8, 11-7, 11-4, 6-11, 10-12, 11-7).

Straight Games Success

The two unexpected successes came after Lily Zhang had ousted Portugal’s Shao Jieni, the no.31 seed and winner on the ITTF World Tour earlier this year in the Nigerian capital city of Lagos.

Impressively, Lily Zhang won in four straight games (11-4, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6).


“I felt confident in the rallies and even though it was the first time I’d played against her, I knew how to approach the match”, said Lily Zhang. “Also, it was her first match and I had already played one match so was accustomed to the conditions.”

Earlier in the day, in the first round of the Women’s Singles event, Lily Zhang had beaten Venezuela’s Gremlis Arvelo in four straight games (11-3, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7).

“Usually playing against a lefty, like Shao Jieni, I don’t return service well but today I didn’t have too many problems”, added Lily Zhang. “I was able to return service well and place the returns accurately; I think I was faster than her and mentally I was very well prepared.”

Major Factor

Tactically Lily Zhang held the key to success but there was one other fact that was vital.

“For sure Nanjing helped greatly”, concluded Lily Zhang. “I said to myself before the match against Shao Jieni that if I could win a bronze medal match, I could beat her.”

She was proved correct.

Status Prevailed

Success against expectations for Daniela Monteiro Dodean, Jian Fang Lay and Lily Zhang; in the remaining five second round Women’s Singles matches that were staged on the opening day of play, it was success as status advised.

Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.18 seed, ended the hopes of the host nation by beating Gui Lin (11-6, 11-9, 11-3, 12-10).

In a somewhat similar fashion, Hungary’s Georgina Pota, the no.23 seed, accounted for Canada’s Zhang Mo (11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 11-5), whilst Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, the no.29 seed, overcame Wu Yue, like Lily Zhang from the United States (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 12-10).

Defenders Succeed

Success for attacking players; there was also success for those who extol the defensive art.

DPR Korea’s Kim Song I proved too secure for Poland’s Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc (11-9, 11-2, 11-6, 11-6), as did Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko when facing the Czech Republic’s Iveta Vacenovska (11-9, 11-8, 11-3, 17-15).


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