by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Notably neither Singapore nor Chinese Taipei fielded their leading player; there was no Feng Tianwei for the former, no Cheng I-Ching for the latter.
Don’t you play your best player when you are confronting the best in the world? Field a deliberately weakened team in the English Premiership Football League and you will receive a hefty fine.
I accept I’m a biased Brit and a former history teacher but let me see the Churchillian spirit “We’ll fight them on the beaches, we will never surrender”, or Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt “Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage.”
Well, one of fair nature did show hard favour’d rage; Chinese Taipei’s Liu Yu-Hsin went into battle all guns blazing and stunned Ding Ning.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever played Ding Ning; I just tried my best and I just tried to win. I tried to play as strong as I could from start to finish.” Liu Yu-Hsin
Staying close to the table, playing at top speed she secured the opening game, before the reigning Olympic and World champion gathered mind and body together to seal a four games victory (12-14, 11-4, 11-3, 11-6).
“I have never played Liu before and it took time to get used to the spin and speed on the ball. After the first game Kong Linghui told me not to rush, not to be anxious, just play one point at a time.” Ding Ning
A spirited effort from Liu Yu-Hsin and it was the same from both Liu Hsing-Yin and Chen Szu-Yu; both must be applauded on giving their best but whatever they could do, their opponent could do better.
Liu Hsing-Yin was beaten in straight games by Liu Shiwen (11-7, 11-7, 11-7); Chen Szu in four games by Zhu Yuling (11-5, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9).
Convincing from China; it was the same from Japan. In fact from the Millennium Team it was even more convincing. Notably all three players in the line-up were born in the year 2000.
Is that the first time in a major international event that in a contest to decide a medal, an entire team has consisted of players born this century?
Mima Ito set Japan on the road to victory. She beat Wong Xin Ru (11-5, 11-2, 11-8), Miu Hirano followed suit by overcoming Eunice Lim (11-3, 11-8, 11-5), before Hina Hayata ended matters. She overcame Tan En Hui (11-3, 11-1, 11-5).
At the semi-final stage China meets Hong Kong, Japan faces Korea Republic.