by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Backbone of the victory was Liu Jia. She accounted for Li Jiao in the second match of the fixture (10-12, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7) after Li Jie had given the Netherlands the ideal start by proving too secure in defence against Sofia Polcanova (11-9, 11-13, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5).
“I have played Li Jiao many times and I always used to win but recently I think I’ve lost at least four times, the European Games, the Super League, the European League and the World Championships. In the first game I made so many mistakes, I lost the first seven points of the match. Today I tried to make some changes and eventually things worked out.” Liu Jia
Success against Li Jiao, later it was success in the fourth match of the engagement, the contest that brought matters to a conclusion.
She beat Britt Eerland but it was a most nervous encounter. Liu Jia won in five games withstanding a brave recovery by her 22 year old adversary to gain success by the very narrowest of margins (11-4, 11-6, 7-11, 15-17, 12-10).
The mainstay of success but the pivotal contest was the doubles which swayed the momentum in favour of Austria,
Li Qiangbing and Sofia Polcanova combined to beat Li Jiao and Britt Eerland in four games (14-16, 11-0, 11-6, 11-9).
“We haven’t played many doubles matches together; the Netherlands pair have played much more. In the first game we made so many errors. I made mistakes with more forehand; in the second game we lost the first three points, Sofia’s forehand became stringer, she played with a lot of topspin, we started to move better, we gained a good harmony.” Li Qiangbing
Victory for Austria, they now meet Japan at the quarter-final stage; the second seeds, they beat Poland, the no.12 seeds, by three matches to nil.
Kasumi Ishikawa beat Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc in three straight games (11-5, 11-7, 11-6), before in her very first match in an Olympic Games, 15 year old Mima Ito accounted for Li Qian to double the advantage (11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 11-2).
“I was very excited going into the match and not nervous. I had a lot of fun; it was really exciting to play at the Olympic Games. In the doubles mine and Ai-Chan’s communication was very good. As this is so essential in doubles we have been practicing this a lot.” Mima Ito.
Japan in the driving seat, matters conluded with Ai Fukuhara and Mima Ito joining forces to overcome Katarzyna Grzybowska and Natalia Partyka in four games (11-5, 9-11, 11-2, 11-9).
The quarter-final fixtures will be played on Saturday 13th August.