by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It was one of the most comprehensive performances in the history of the Women’s Singles event at a European Championships; the pen-hold skills of Fu Yu presenting minimal problems.
She surrendered just five games on her way to the title; in addition to the one game lost in the final, she was extended to six games in the third round by Russia’s Polina Mikhailova (7-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9) and the quarter-finals by Germany’s Han Ying (11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9).
One wonders to what extent the result in Budapest could prove a watershed in her career, always competitive, many times in the latter stages but the top prize has proved elusive.
“I am happy the way I played today. I am not afraid any more of the pen-holders. I was very confident and I had a good feeling for the ball”, Hu Melek
Arguably her best previous performance came at the Liebherr 2013 World Championships in Paris when she reached the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event, losing to China’s eventual silver medallist Liu Shiwen.
Prior to her efforts in the French capital city; runners up spot on the ITTF World Tour in Cairo in 2010 was a performance of note.
Perhaps, that result underlines her progress; in Egypt she beaten in the final by the Japanese defender, Yuka Ishigaki.
“She was very fast. I had no answer to her game”, Fu Yu
In Budapest, she proved most adept against the backspin art; in addition to Polina Mikhailova and Han Ying; in the opening round she had beaten Alina Arlouskaya of Belarus (11-3, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6), before earlier on the concluding day defeating Li Jie of the Netherlands in the semi-finals (11-5, 11-3, 11-3, 11-6).
Success and for both Hu Melek and Fu Yu, a moment of history; they are the first players from their respective national associations to reach a European Championships Women’s Singles final.