21 Mar 2017

Winner just over one month ago on the ITTF World Tour when competing on home soil in Pyongyang, DPR Korea’s Kim Song I caused the biggest upset to date in the table tennis events at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The no.27 seed, in the third round of the Women’s Singles event, she accounted for Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.4 seed, in a gruelling full distance seven games encounter (7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8); a contest which was both mentally and physically exhausting.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Consistent, predominantly directing her top spin strokes towards the backhand of Kim Song I, Kasumi Ishikawa won the first two games; seemingly she was asserting her authority on the contest.

Physically Demanding

It was not to be the scenario, increasingly solid in defence but prepared to seize the opportunity when the occasion arose by executing a lethal forehand top spin, Kim Song recovered.

Long physically demanding points ensued, the strain took its toll on Kasumi Ishikawa; in the deciding seventh game she was never ahead and at 4-7 down, sank to her knees in discomfort.

“It was just a cramp but I never had a cramp in any matches ever, so I’m very upset”, said Kasumi Ishikawa. “I played very well in beginning but I was becoming exhausted because of all the movement; today is my mum’s birthday and wanted to celebrate her with a win today.”

Doo Hoi Kem

A recovery of note by Kim Song I, it was almost the same from Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem; she lost the first two games, saved one game point in the third before progressing to a six games success (8-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8).

“I lost the first two games because I was so nervous, so many people in the hall, so much noise I lost concentration”, explained Doo Hoi Kem. “When I was down 9-10 in the third game I said myself I must not lose so easily; after I won the third game I was much more active, much more positive and I became more confident.”

Further Upsets

Two noteworthy recoveries; there was also two notable upsets; Chen Szu-Yu, the no.23 seed, overcame Turkey’s Hu Melek, the no.14 seed (12-10, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8), before in a contest that required the Expedite Rule to be invoked, Li Xue of France, the no.30 seed, eventually overcame Li Jie of the Netherlands, the no.11 seed

Otherwise it was success for the favourites as play in the top half of the draw in the Women’s Singles event progressed.

Set Example

China’s Ding Ning, the top seed, set the example. She beat Romania’s Elizabeta Samara in four straight games but did experience problems in the second game when she lost the first six points (11-5, 11-8, 11-5, 11-2).

“I came very early today to start my warm up, so it felt like I waited very long for my match to start, I was a little nervous at the start of the match, but things eventually went well”, said Ding Ning. “At the start of the second game I wasn’t into rhythm then, she had two edge balls when she was already leading 4-0; I didn’t panic I was able to keep calm and follow the strategy.”

Undoubtedly recovering to secure a two games to nil lead was vital.

“The second game was actually the most crucial part of the match, if I had lost that game, the third and fourth games would have been more difficult for me”, added Ding Ning. “Even though we did a lot of preparation, there are always many situations that we can’t predict and for which we cannot prepare.”

Thoughts of London

Was Ding Ning thinking back to London and the problems she faces in the final when faulted on her service action?

“I can only do my best and face every difficulty with a positive mind set; that is the most important; as compared to my first appearance in London, I would say I’m more mature now”, concluded Ding Ning.

Impressive Performances

Impressive from Ding Ning, it was the very same from Jeon Jihee, the no.8 seed, who accounted for Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm (11-3, 11-3, 3-11, 11-4, 11-2) and from Germany’s Han Ying, the no.5 seed, who overcame Thailand’s Nanthana Komwong (11-2, 11-4, 11-4, 11-3).

Likewise, Singapore’s Yu Mengyu, the no.9 seed, overcame Australia’s Jian Fang Lay (11-9, 11-9, 11-6, 12-10).

Rio 2016 Rio Women's News Kim Song I

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