by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Success came the way of Tie Yana, very much thanks to a relatively cautious approach. She was well aware that if she played at speed towards the backhand of Shen Yanfei, the ball would be returned with interest and more often than not at a wide angle.
Controlled top spin play, directed predominantly towards the backhand of her adversary, was very much the tactic employed by Tie Yana. She established a three games to one lead and led 8-7 in the fifth.
Shen Yanfei called “Time Out” and returned courtside to receive advice from Wang Chen, the former Chinese international, now resident in the United States for many years and on duty for her adopted country at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games..
It was to prove to no avail; Tie Yana did not lose another point; a place in the semi-finals was secured.
“I am pleased with my performance today, I felt very relaxed; we both know each other well so there was no real tactical play” Tie Yana
Shen Yanfei and Tie Yana had met on four previous occasions in World ranking events: Tie Yana had emerged successful on the first two meetings, the 2006 Chinese Taipei Open and two years later at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Later Shen Yanfei had emerged successful in the two most recent encounters; she had won when they met at the Volkswagen Women’s World Cup in 2012 and at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour, Hungary Open.
Well known to each other and adversaries beyond the international stage; past performances counted for nought; however when taking into consideration the names of Cheng I-Ching and Liu Jia, history was intriguing.
The only previous occasion when they had met was just under one year ago at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in the Japanese city of Sendai; on that occasion Liu Jia had won in four straight (11-7, 11-3, 11-7, 11-8).
“I think today I had more luck than Liu Jia, the supported me very well today and that gave me confidence” Cheng I-Ching
However, in the intervening weeks and months Cheng I-Ching has risen from no.17 on the Women’s World Rankings at the beginning of August 2015 to no.8; equally there has been progress of Liu Jia but not as dramatic. She has moved from no.28 to no.21.
Progress and that fact was underlined in the against Liu Jia; there was nothing expansive about the efforts extolled by Cheng I-Ching, it was just simple effective play.
Excel in the art of service and receive, make full use of the table to create angles when required to block the ball but most importantly spin the first ball; then in the next take full advantage of a passive return.
Cheng I-Ching and Tie Yana meet at the semi-final stage.