by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Defeat for Lily Zhang but a second stage place alongside Sabine Winter is assured.
One day earlier Turkey’s Hu Melek had withdrawn from proceedings, too late to find replacement. The overall effect was that the first stage involved one of the four groups consisting of only two players. The draw resulted in it being that involving Lily Zhang and Sabine Winter.
It was the second time on the international scene that Lily Zhang and Sabine Winter had crossed swords; some six years earlier they had met in snow ridden Bratislava at the World Junior Championships in the first stage of the Girls’ Team event.
“It was my first match and I was a bit nervous but I started off very well in the first game. I am feeling good and satisfied. I am essentially a forehand player and my backhand was also good today. I have lot of respect for Lily, I am happy I was able to play my game well.” Sabine Winter
The verdict on that occasion had been resolved in favour of Sabine Winter but it had been a close affair; the full five games had been required to determine the result (6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5).
In Philadelphia, the outcome was more definitive in a contest played a breakneck speed.
Success for speed, for Jiang Huajun, now one day short of her 32nd birthday it was success for experience in opposition to Sofia Polcanova who celebrated her 22nd birthday the previous month.
The left Austrian made by far the better start, her speed the key to success; eventually, control and the renowned backhand ever more potent, Jiang Huajun assumed control. It was the first meeting in a World ranking event between Jiang Huajun and Sofia Polcanova.
A place in the main draw for Jiang Huajun, having earlier in the day accounted for Colombia’s Lady Ruano (11-9, 11-3, 11-3, 11-6) was assured.
Meanwhile, for Sofia Polcanova there was also to be progress; in the concluding contest in the group, she ended the hopes of Lady Ruano (12-10, 11-5, 11-5, 11-4)
Progress it was the same for both Spain’s Shen Yanfei and Dina Meshref as they secured runners up spots in their respective groups.
Dina Meshref having lost earlier in the afternoon to Hungary’s Georgina Pota (6-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-7, 11-8) overcame Zhenhua Dederko (11-9, 11-4, 11-6, 11-4); Shen Yanfei accounted for Wu Yue to end the hopes of the host nation (11-8, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6).
“She is a very good player. She is a very experienced player. She plays with medium length pimples on her backhand and it’s difficult for me. I am very happy that I was able to win four-nil. I really wanted to qualify for the next stage and I am glad I did it.” Dina Meshref
Earlier at the start of the afternoon’s session of play, Shen Yanfei had experienced defeat at the hands of Elizabeta Samara (11-8, 13-11, 11-9, 11-7).
Elizabeta Samara, Georgina Pota, Jiang Huajun and Sabine Winter concluded matters in first places in their respective groups; second places went to Shen Yanfei, Dina Meshref, Lily Zhang and Sofia Polcanova.