by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Li Xiaoxia gave China the perfect start by beating Ri Mi Gyong, the one attacking player in the DPR Korea line-up; she won in three straight games (11-8, 11-6, 11-8).
Expected Kim Song I
All three members of the Chinese Team are strong against any style of play; that is why whatever World rankings may suggest, they are the best three female players on planet earth.
However, if there is one member of the trio who is particularly devastating against the backspin art, it is Li Xiaoxia. Did Kong Linghui, the coach of the Chinese Team, think that Kim Song I, bronze medallist in the Women’s Singles event, might be first in action for DPR Korea?
“Initially I was told by coach Kong Linghui that I would be playing against Kim Song I this morning but I ended up playing against RI Mi Gyong instead. I have played Ri Myong Sun in the past, and her strokes today were not so powerful than when we played in previous encounters; it took some time for me to adapt.” Li Xiaoxia
Proved Equally Adept
It mattered nought, Kim Song I played in the second match and suffered the same fate as if she had no doubt confronted Li Xiaoxia; not the power of her compatriot but consistency of the very highest order, Liu Shiwen beat the stylish 22 year old defending in a most comprehensive and commanding manner (11-4, 11-5, 11-8).
“Kim Song I is very smart in her strategy, she kept varying her playing style to create more challenges for me. I’m happy that I came through to win against her.” Liu Shiwen
China two matches to nil ahead, the die was cast; once again Liu Shiwen, this time in partnership with Ding Ning underlined the fact that defensive players presented no gremlins, It was the same for Ding Ning who been required to work extremely hard to beat Kim Song I at the semi-final stage of the Women’s Singles event some two days earlier.
They beat the backspin artistes in the guise of Kim Song I and Ri Myong Sun in three straight games (11-7, 11-3, 11-3).
“We didn’t have too many rallies in the doubles, so it didn’t strain my shoulders too much. I think out of the three of us, I’m the only one who have played Kim Song I, so last night during our team meeting, I shared on my experience of playing against her, explaining some characteristics on her playing style.” Ding Ning
It was a most convincing win and I wonder; had they beaten a team who if in the opposite half of the draw would have reached the final?
The semi-final contest concerning China is scheduled for 7.30pm on Sunday 14th August.