by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The win was as seeding predicted, Lee Ho Ching occupied the no.15 seeded position in the draw, Tetyana Bilenko was in the no.26 spot.
Lost in Tokyo
However, history suggested otherwise; they met at the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships in Tokyo. On that occasion Tetyana Bilenko won in three straight games.
“I have practised a great deal in Hong Kong against defensive players and I think now my forehand is much better, much stronger against backspin play”, explained Lee Ho Ching, “Now I’m making less mistakes than in the past, I think I’m more patient than before and today, I felt confident before the match started: at the German Open I neat a Korean defender.”
Korean Defender of Note
Furthermore, it was a Korean defender of note; she beat Suh Hyowon (11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 4-11, 4-11, 11-7), the no.12 seed in Rio de Janeiro, like Lee Ho Ching, emerged successful in her third round encounter.
She accounted for Lily Zhang of the United States in five games (11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6).
Undoubtedly it was a confidence boosting win and there was another reason for self-belief.
“For sure the fact that Doo Hoi Kem won yesterday helped a great deal today; that really motivated me”, concluded Lee Ho Ching. The previous evening, Doo Hoi Kem had beaten Hungary’s Georgina Pota in six games (8-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8).
An impressive win; it was the same for China’s Li Xiaoxia, the defending champion.
Furthermore it was a somewhat different Li Xiaoxia to the player we saw in her opening match in London four years ago. It was a much calmer persona than when in the ExCeL Exhibition Centre she had been extended to six games by a spirited Ariel Hsing of the United States.
In Rio de Janeiro, against Li Fen, she was in control from start to finish against a player who although representing Sweden is no stranger to Li Xiaoxia; both are from Shandong province in China. Imposingly Li Xiaoxia won in four straight games (11-7, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9).
“I’m still very nervous coming into my first match at Rio 2016, furthermore it’s against Li Fen, she was a member of Chinese National Team, so she’s still very strong”, said Li Xiaoxia. “I’m nervous, but it’s much better compared to London 2012, I have played at the Olympics before, so I have experienced this; that helps.”
Performances of authority and as the third day of play commenced there was one more most impressive effort.
Japan’s Ai Fukuhara, the no.6 seed, accounted for Romania’s Daniela Monteiro Dodean (11-5, 11-6, 11-4, 11-1).