by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The win was as seeding predicted but the more importantly, the win underlines the progress being made by Cheng I-Ching. It underlines the fact not only in terms of ranking but also against Viktoria Pavlovich and her defensive style of play.
Four years ago when the Olympic Games were being staged in London, Cheng I-Ching stood at no.66 on the Women’s World Rankings; at the start of this year in January, she was at no.35, now in August she is at a career high no.10,
Furthermore, in World ranking tournaments, on the most recent four occasions when she has played Viktoria Pavlovich she has lost. On the ITTF World Tour, she was beaten in 2011 in China and the following year in Germany, before experiencing defeat at the GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
Meanwhile more recently at the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships, she experienced defeat.
“Today whenever possible I tried to play to the middle”, said Cheng I-Ching who always answers with a mischievous grin crossing her face.
“I won because I’m younger than her!” smiled Cheng I-Ching who is 24 years old as opposed to Viktoria Pavlovich who is from a generation earlier; she is 38 years of age.
“Overall I think I am now better against defensive players because I am now more patient”, added Cheng I-Ching. “In the seventh game I made such a good start but I really can explain that, I just played.”
In the seventh game she won nine of the first ten points!
Success for Defence
Success for attack against defence; there was also success for the reverse scenario and an upset. DPR Korea’s Ri Myong Sun, the no.21 seed, beat Germany’s Petrissa Solja, the no.10 seed (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).
“This is my first big match here in Rio”, said Ri Myong Sun who one round earlier had beaten Hungary’s Petra Lovas in four straight games (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).
“I played well against the German player to win and I am very pleased”, concluded Ri Myong Sun.
An impressive display from Ri Myong Sun, it was the same from Austria’s Liu Jia, the no.16 seed and eventually from Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the no.2 seed after a very tentative start.
Liu Jia beat Li Jiao of the Netherlands, the no.20 seed (7-11, 11-8, 15-13, 11-9, 11-5), before Feng Tianwei recovered from a two nil to games deficit to overcome Luxembourg’s 53 year old Ni Xia Lian.
“It’s my first match, so my body still feels a little tense”, said Feng Tianwei. “Her playing style is very unique, I think she’s probably the only one in the world playing that style, so I’m not used to it; I found it hard to find my rhythm in the first two games, she was playing very well, so it was really tough for me.”
The pen-hold grip blocking style of play with different surfaces on each side of the racket is from a bye gone era but it one that has served Ni Xialian very well.
“She is a great player”, concluded Feng Tianwei; she is also a great person, she played throughout with a smile on her face.