by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In the battle of the old continent, it was the winner in Norcia in 1998 and the following year in Frydel-Mistek who prevailed. Austria’s Liu Jia overcame Hungary’s Georgina Pota, the champion in Moscow in 2002.
Impressively, Liu Jia prevailed in five games (11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9), the consistency of her top spin play proving a telling factor in enabling her to maintain her supremacy against Georgina Pota.
The duo had met on three prior occasions in World ranking events; Liu Jia had won all three meetings.
However, two of the three had been close; at both the Liebherr 2006 World Team Championships and the GAC Group 2014 Hungarian Open the duels had needed a deciding game. More recently at the TMS 2014 European Team Championships the outcome had been more decisive. Liu Jia had won in four games.
Meanwhile in the contest between colleagues, seniority that prevailed as 37 year-old Tie Yana showed no mercy when facing her Hong Kong team mate Jiang Huajun; no mercy and no presents. The second day of play in Philadelphia will be Jiang Huajun’s 32nd birthday.
No doubt for both Tie Yana and Jiang Huajun it was the draw that neither player desired but in the first round, there is no separation by national association; thus the two Hong Kong colleagues were adversaries.
Both are similar yet different; name female players of the past 20 years and you struggle to find two with more effective backhands. Short pimples, Jiang Huajun exudes power; for Tie Yana she has the Rolls Royce version, the stroke flows as smooth as silk.
In Philadelphia the backhand flowed, it proved the more consistent and crucially, the forehand of Tie Yana emerged the more secure; when rallies developed Tie Yana was the favourite.
Familiar and for the second time, adversaries in a Women’s World Cup; they met in 2011 at the Volkswagen Women’s World Cup in Singapore at the quarter-final stage. On that occasion Tie Yana emerged successful in five games (7-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8).
In Philadelphia, at the other side of the world, the verdict was very similar; a five game result in favour of Tie Yana was the outcome (11-7, 11-9, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9).