by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
There was no stopping the trio formed by Ding Ning, Li Xiaoxia and Liu Shiwen.
Notably Liu Shiwen was not named in the first two singles matches, even though she possesses the exalted status of being listed in top spot in the Women’s World Rankings.
The defeat suffered by Liu Shiwen at the Liebherr 2010 World Team Championships at the hands of Feng Tianwei, the match that secured the title for Singapore had an effect on Liu Shiwen.
Immediately following, although suffering from a slight injury, Liu Shiwen was beaten by Feng Tianwei at the Volkswagen 2012 ITTF World Tour China Open in Shenzhen; before in 2015 experiencing defeat in the final at the GAC Asian Cup and at the Suzuki Asian Championships.
In the Mind
Kong Linghui, the head coach of the Chinese Women’s Team was quite clear in 2015 that Liu Shiwen had a mental block when facing Feng Tianwei.
However, following the memorable contest in Moscow Liu Shiwen did beat Feng Tianwei in 2012 at the Women’s World Cup and at the GAC Group ITTF World Tour Grand Finals. Also in 2015 Liu Shiwen prevailed at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour China Open and more recently earlier this year at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Korea Open.
Was Kong Linghui just being super cautious?
“The first two singles matches are vital. We anticipated that Frng Tianwei will be the first player, so we decided to put Li Xiaoxia to play against her as she has a better head to head and has higher chance of victory. We thought about the possibility of a fourth match. Even though Liu Shiwen has lost to Feng Tianwei twice last year, she’s not a weaker player” Kong Linghui
He sent out Li Xiaoxia to face Feng Tianwei in the opening encounter. He was instantly rewarded, Li Xiaoxia emerged successful in three straight games (12-10, 11-8, 11-9).
Arguably there was not a great deal to choose between the two players but Li Xiaoxia won the big points and was the more consistent,
Zhou Yihan Raised Level
A spirited effort from Feng Tianwei, it was an even more spirited effort from 22 year old Zhou Yihan; she raised level and tested Ding Ning. A four games defeat (11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-2) but the fact that she extracted one game from the newly crowned Olympic champion underlined the quality if the performance.
Furthermore that securing one game from a leading China player is news illustrates just how China is ahead of the rest of the world.
Doubles Win Concludes Matters
China two matches to nil ahead, matters were brought to a conclusion by the partnership of Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen.
Three appearances this year on the ITTF World Tour, on each occasion being crowned champions, winning in Qatar, Kuwait and Korea, in Rio de Janeiro they won again.
They beat the combination of Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan in three straight games (11-4, 11-1, 11-9).to seal the Chinese victory.
Final and Bronze Medal
China now plays Germany in the final; Singapore meets Japan to contest the bronze medal. The bronze medal engagement is scheduled for 11.00am on Tuesday 16th August; the gold medal duel for later in the day at 7.30pm.