08 Dec 2016

Ever since the Grand Finals were staged in the Chinese city of Tianjin in 1996, the Women’s Singles event has been dominated by players representing the People’s Republic of China.

Only three players in the 20 editions of the tournament have emerged as winners when not wearing Chinese colours; two of them are on duty at the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals which start in Doha on Thursday 8th December.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, who won is Seoul in 2010 and Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa who prevailed in Bangkok in 2014, are both in action in Doha.

The third player of the illustrious group is Chen Jing; she won in Sydney in 2000 when representing Chinese Taipei. Notably in 1988 when in action for China, she had won the Women’s Singles gold at the first ever Olympic Games.

Both Kasumi Ishikawa and Feng Tianwei are highly seeded in Doha; Kasumi Ishikawa is the no.2 seed, Feng Tianwei is the no.4 seed; they are in different halves of the draw but I suspect one is more pleased with the name of their first round adversary than the other.

Kasumi Ishikawa faces Korea’s Suh Hyowon, a player she has beaten on the most recent three occasions on the international scene without surrendering a single game.

At the GAC Group 2015 Asian Cup in Jaipur, India; Kasumi Ishikawa emerged successful in both the initial group stage matches and in the contest for fifth place. Later she was to win in the final at the Grand Finals in 2014 in Bangkok.

Conversely, for Feng Tianwei she confronts Japan’s Miu Hirano, a player hot foot from the Sun International World Junior Championships in Cape Town, South Africa. At the Nakheel Asian Cup earlier this year, Feng Tianwei emerged the victor; however, most memorably at the Seamaster Women’s World Cup in Philadelphia, Miu Hirano beat Feng Tianwei at the semi-final stage en route to the eventual title.

Not relishing the idea of facing Miu Hirano, perhaps I have that wrong; perhaps Feng Tianwei is relishing the chance of revenge?

Feng Tianwei is in the same half of the draw as China’s Ding Ning, the top seed and defending champion; for Kasumi Ishikawa, the potential semi-final opponent is Ding Ning’s colleague Zhu Yuling, she is the no.3 seed.

“All 16 players have qualified through the whole year tough matches, so everyone is strong. I will prepare and try my best in every single match. I will prepare my specific match according to the final draw. I lost to Feng Tianwei in the Chinese Super League. If I met her again, I will need to make some adjustment to my tactics to control the match”, Ding Ning

In the opening round Ding Ning meets Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching; Zhu Yuling faces the Japanese defender, Hitomi Sato.

The remaining first round Women’s Singles matches witness contests between Germany’s Han Ying and Japan’s Mima Ito; Hong Kong’s Tie Yana Yuka Ishigaki.

Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw, Hina Hayata plays Cheng I-Ching; Korea’s Yang Haeun meets Germany’s Shan Xiaona.

World Tour Grand Finals Kasumi Ishikawa Feng Tianwei

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