by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Kim Song I, the no.27 seed, beat Singapore’s Yu Mengyu, the no.9 seed (11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 6-11), before Ding Ning, the top seed, ended the aspirations of Germany’s Han Ying, the no.5 seed (11-8, 11-5, 11-3, 11-7).
Met in Kuala Lumpur
Success for Kim Song I was an arguable upset but it was in accordance with history; the two had met on one previous occasion, earlier this year at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur when Kim Song I had prevailed in six games.
Meanwhile in the ensuing contest, the odds were stacked heavily in favour of Ding Ning; four meetings on the international scene, four wins for the reigning World champion.
Notably they had met on three occasions in recent times; coincidentally as in Rio de Janeiro at the quarter-final stage. Last December in Lisbon, Ding Ning had won in six games at the GAC Group 2015 Grand Finals; earlier this year on the ITTF World Tour in Kuwait and Qatar straight games successes had been the verdict.
In Rio de Janeiro, the backspin skills of Kim Song I proved too secure; for Yu Mengyu there was a glimmer of hope after electing for “Time Out” when trailing 8-9 in the sixth game.
She duly won the game but a change of tactics from Kim Song I, prepared to top spin with the forehand when Yu Mengyu played carefully down the middle of the table gave Kim Song I the early advantage in the sixth game.
“I am very happy, I am so proud that I could make such a good performance on the biggest stage, I was able to control the match which was key for me today”, said Kim Song I. “It is a great honour to play here and with the world’s best players.”
Meanwhile Ding Ning was relentless against Han Ying. Forehand top spin strokes with relentless efficiency directed to the body of her adversary took its toll, as the contest progressed and Ding Ning became more relaxed the tirade gained in speed.
There was to be no Lisbon repeat when Ding Ning had experienced problems against the German, a lesson had been learned.
“Playing against defenders is very taxing on stamina, my arm is really sore right now”, said Ding Ning. “I was trying to play aggressively; my strokes against defensive players are lethal, so I was prepared for long rallies.”
Semi-Final and Final
Ding Ning and Kim Song I meet in the penultimate round; the match followed by the final and bronze medal contest will be played on Wednesday 10th August.