21 Mar 2017

Overcoming the defensive art, that was the challenge for Japan’s Ai Fukuhara, the no.6 seed and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.7 seed, in the fourth round of the Women’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on the evening of Monday 8th August.

Both succeeded and both succeeded against defensive players of somewhat contrasting styles.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Most impressively, Ai Fukuhara beat DPR Korea’s Ri Myong Sun, the no.21 seed, in four straight games (11-5, 12-10, 11-1, 11-7), before Cheng I-Ching withstood a brave recovery from Korea’s Suh Hyowon, the no.12 seed, to record a seven games success (11-5, 11-9, 11-3, 4-11, 5-11, 9-11, 11-7).


Ri Myong Sun is very much the defender in the traditional mode, she is prepared to top spin from the forehand but not to the extent of Suh Hyowon; both serve predominantly from the backhand using the high thrown service technique.

In that area Suh Hyowon is arguably the more accomplished, a fact endorsed by Cheng I-hing.

Difficult to Read Service

“It was really difficult to read the service; also, when defending she changes the spin on the ball when playing from the backhand, from the forehand when she defends, she puts a lot of backspin on the ball”, said Cheng I-Ching. “I think today, the best part of my game was that I was mentally strong.”

Mentally Strong

Mentally strong; that was also the situation with regards to China’s Li Xiaoxia, the no.3 seed and defending champion. She overcame Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching, the no.15 seed, in four straight games (11-5, 11-6, 11-4, 11-4).

“I was prepared today; Ma Long’s match this afternoon was a good wake up call for me of all the possible difficulties that could occur on court”, explained Li Xiaoxia; Ma Long having been required to recover from a two games to nil deficit to be the spirited Korean Jeoung Youngsik (6-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-1, 13-11, 13-11).

“Before the match, my coach has also told me to be prepared to meet tougher opponents and to be ready for a long match; mentally I was ready”, concluded Li Xiaoxia.

The coach in question is the one and only Kong Linghui

Higher Ranked Won

Success for the higher rated player, it was the same in the one remaining match in the lower of the Women’s Singles draw; Feng Tianwei, the no.2 seed, beat Austria’s Liu Jia, the no.16 seed (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 11-4).

A fine effort from Feng Tianwei who appeared to be enjoying the quite incredible atmosphere in Riocentro Pavilion 3 as the local hone in on a player and give their support.


“We have crowds cheering at every Olympic Games, maybe this time the spectator seats are closer to the field of play, so it seems loud; I didn’t expect the spectators here to be so passionate, probably because of their football culture here”, said Feng Tianwei. “It does affect the players, it was the same for Liu Jia as for me; I was not thinking too much about it as a distraction but focus point by point in the match.”.


At the quarter-final stage Li Xiaoxia meets Cheng I-Ching, Feng Tianwei opposes Ai Fukuhara.

The matches will be played on Tuesday 9th March.

Rio 2016 Rio Women's News Cheng I-Ching Ai Fukuhara Seo Hyowon

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