by Wade Townsend
Memories of Moscow
China and Singapore face off in the first match of day ten, finishing up the women’s semi-finals. Without doubt China are heavy favourites and them not taking gold here in Rio would be the biggest shock in this Olympics in any sport. Hovering over the match however is memories of Moscow. Singapore took the World Team title from China in Moscow 2010 in one of the biggest sporting surprises of the decade so far. China have been making up for that loss ever since. Singapore isn’t the team that they were six years ago, but Yu Mengyu does have a win against Liu Shiwen on the books. Yu with veteran Feng Tianwei makes two players in the team with wins against China, so to completely rule them out would be a mistake. Feng hasn’t looked quite in form in Rio, but maybe she is overdue for a good performance.The doubles is going to be a problem and realistically they are going to have to take the win in the singles matches if they are to beat China. But up against the trio of Ding, Li and Liu, that will be an almost impossible feat.
Japan versus Germany is always a classic matchup, but even more so after the two nations faced off yesterday in the first women’s semi-final. That went Germany’s way in a nail biter and it’s going to be hard for the men to match that spectacle. When it comes down to the stats, Jun leads Dima 11-6, meanwhile Timo is 15-1 against the Japanese number one. But it has been two years since Timo and Jun have played. Is age creeping up on Boll? The player sequence may be important and both coaches will be hoping that luck is on their side when the coin is flipped to determine the order. Both Boll and Dima are looking to redeem their singles performances and will want to ensure a Rio medal by taking this match today. Luckily for the pair, third string Steger is in form. For Japan the match may rest on Niwa. He has the talent but he will have to execute it under pressure, both in singles and doubles. Yoshimura is yet to do wrong and maybe will bring a surprise performance when the pressure is on. But on paper this match looks like going Germany’s way unless Japan can step things up a gear.
A long shot
England tested China at times on day nine, but just failed in getting a game on the board. Korea Republic may gain some confidence from this when they face the number one seeds in the last match of day ten. Is a Chinese victory a certainty? Jeoung had every chance to push Ma Long to a decider in the individuals, and why cant he do the same in the team event. Lee Sangsu is also a wildcard and is particularly dangerous in the best of five format if he comes out firing. Korea Republic also have a fantastic doubles combination in Jeoung and and Lee. Joo Saehyuk looks fresh and maybe not participating in the singles will provide him with an edge — his legs will be prepared to run in two marathon like matches today if need be. All this considered, Korea Republic has a real chance at ruining China’s clean sheet. Their has been no real reason to doubt Chinese triumvirate of Ma, Zhang and Xu so far, and Korea Republic are a long shot, but something in the air tells me this could be a close one.