by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Adopting her fast attacking pen-hold grip skills to good effect, staying close the table at all times, she beat China’s Zhu Yuling in five games (11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7) minimising the amount of time available for the top seed to extol her top spin skills.
“I think I played well against Zhu Yuling today, my receive of her serves was good. She was slower getting into the game as well and wasn’t playing her best level. Our last encounter ended with me losing three-four at the Japan Open last year, it was very close, it was a pity that I lost but that made me realise that I still have a chance.”
“To be frank, my goal was just to take two games off her. In the fifth game when I was leading 3-1, I was thinking of finishing the game quickly to win but I knew that game was crucial, if I lost that game, she could have easily come back to take the match. I think I’m really lucky to be able to win. I think generally for Chinese players, they have a lot of pressure to win when they come out to compete and that gives foreign players an advantage in setting a good mentality against them”, Shan Xiaona
An outstanding performance by Shan Xiaona; her success somewhat overshadowed the efforts of Natalia Partyka on the adjacent table; she accounted for fellow qualifier, Korea’s Yang Haeun. However, there is a gap of over 50 places on the current Women’s World Rankings; Natalia Partyka stands at no.78, Yang Haeun is at 27.
“She plays so very consistently, you cannot make unforced errors against her. Play fast, play with spin against her and she keeps the ball on the table. She is very strong from the backhand, better from that side than from the forehand; so I focused my initial attacks predominantly towards her forehand. I tried to play my game, to play my forehand top spin as early as possible; backhand to backhand, she would win; forehand to backhand she would win but forehand to forehand I felt I was the better player”, Yang Haeun.
Defeat for Zhu Yuling but there were no such problems for colleagues Chen Meng, Gu Yuting and Wang Mangyu.
Chen Meng, the no.9 seed, accounted for Han Ying, the no.5 seed and like ShanXiaona from Germany (7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-13, 11-5, 11-4). Meanwhile, Gu Yuting beat Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.13 seed (11-7, 13-11, 11-9, 11-6), Wang Manyu ended the progress of fellow qualifier, the Slovak Republic’s Barbora Balazova (11-6, 7-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-6).
Three qualifiers successful in the second round of the Women’s Singles event, for three more it was defeat. Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.4 seed, beat Japan’s Misaki Morizono (8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4, 12-10), Li Jie of the Netherlands departed at the hands of Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the no.3 seed (6-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8).
Similarly, in the all Japanese duel, it was success for Mima Ito, the no.6 seed, when confronting Miyu Kato (7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9).
At the quarter-final stage, in the top half of the draw, Shan Xiaona meets Natalia Partyka, Chen Meng plays Cheng I-Ching. In the opposite half Feng Tianwei confronts Gu Yuting, Mimo Ito faces Wang Manyu.
The quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Women’s Singles event will be played on Saturday 25th February.