by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Impressively on the first day of action she had beaten Egypt’s Dina Meshref (7-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8); even more impressively on the second day, she overcame Portugal’s Fu Yu, the no.17 seed (14-16, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8).
“She is higher ranked than me and she serves well, I never thought I would have a chance to beat her”, said Nanthana Komwong. “She has a very unique serve, we seldom see that in Thailand, so it felt weird playing against her; however, as the match progressed, I adapted and just gave in my best to win every point.”
Fu Yu is a right handed pen-hold grip player in the traditional mode of using one side of the racket only.
Success for Nanthana Komwong but for her colleague, 21 year old Suthasini Sawettabut, it was defeat; she was beaten by Li Jiao of the Netherlands, the no.20 seed (12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5).
Victory for experience and later in the day it was victory for even greater experience and against the odds; Ni Xialian, now 53 years, ten years the senior of Li Jiao, accounted for Spain’s Shen Yanfei, the no.28 seed (12-10, 10-12, 12-10, 6-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-4).
“I didn’t expect to go so far here in Rio; It was a difficult match against Shen Yanfei, I had many opportunities in all the games to win, but I missed out”, said Ni Xialian. ““Many times in the past, I would have lost the match totally but today I held on to the big opportunity to win it; mentally I think I’m stronger today and my experience helped too, I implemented my tactics well in the match, and I believed in myself.”
Once again the mental aspect rang loud and clear.
Walking on thin ice
“I lost the second and third game because I was too eager to win but I’m not young anymore, I have to accept the situation I am in; if I’m was 20 years younger, I would have taken every chance to end the match faster but I’m not anymore, my body can’t keep up with my strategies and tactics”, added Ni Xialian. “I need to adapt and play slower and be more passive in my play; it’s like walking on thin ice, it’s not easy.”
Ni Xialian adapted.
“I still feel tired from my matches yesterday, and last night I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited”, she concluded.
Two upsets as play concluded in the second round of the Women’s Singles event and there was one more; Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.22 seed (9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-7, 11-8).
Earlier in Day
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, matters had progressed as status suggested in the second round of the Women’s Singles event.
Li Xue of France, the no.30 seed, had beaten Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz (11-1, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8), whilst Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, the no.23 seed, had beaten Alexandra Privalova, like Viktoria Pavlovich from Belarus (13-15, 9-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-5, 11-5).
Likewise, Sweden’s Li Fen, the no.25 seed, had overcome the Slovak Republic’s Barbora Balazova (11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7) and DPR Korea’s Ri Myong Sun, the no.21 seed, had proved too stout in defence for Hungary’s Petra Lovas (11-9, 11-2, 7-11, 11-4, 12-10).