by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In a dramatic contest Lee Rou You, after having beaten Neda Shahsavari in the second match of the fixture (11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 12-10), eventually overcame Mahshid Ashtari in the vital fifth encounter, a contest in which she kept the whole stadium on the very edges of their seats.
She established a 5-1 and 7-3 in the fifth game; then at 10-8 held two match points, Mahshid Ashtari levelled and held one match point before at her overall sixth attempt, Lee Rou You converted (11-8, 6-11, 11-7,6-11, 16-14).
“Neda attacked very strongly, so against her I tried just to make no mistakes, keep the ball on the table; play with good control. I think I served well and I was able to attack strongly after my service. In the last match it was difficult to adapt to her style of play; she uses long pimpled rubber on the backhand and I’m not used to playing against that style. It was hard to read the spin. I became nervous as the fifth game progressed but I tried not to show any nerves”, Lee Rou You
Lee Rou You was both the backbone of the team and the heroine; her win over Neda Shahsavari giving Malaysia a two-nil lead after Ng Sock Khim had beaten Mahshid Ashtari in the opening contest (12-10, 11-2, 11-8).
Victory on the horizon, Maryam Samet sparked an Iranian revival by beating Ho Ying (11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 11-5) before Neda Shahsavari overcame Ng Sock Khim to level matters in a tension packed five games duel (11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10).
A memorable recovery; it was not to be the outcome but for Iran, it was defeat with honour, a contest for the neutral to savour and one in sharp contrast to the adjacent quarter-final which saw India, guided by former national champion, Arup Basak, overcome Kazakhstan by three matches to nil.
Manika Batra beat Nataliya Sladkova (11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4) to give India the ideal start, before Mouma Das accounted for Zauresh Alasheva (11-6, 11-3, 11-7) and Sutirtha Mukherjee concluded matters with success in opposition to Yuliya Gats (11-9, 12-10, 11-6).
“The win was as we expected; today Mouma played very well. Manika won the first match but at times she was not focused. I was pleased with the way Sutirtha played; in the first two games she was very safe, in the third she was much more positive. The players are having to adjust, the ball comes back low with little spin.” Arup Basak
At the semi-final stage, in the contests for a place in the last eight; India meets Chinese Taipei, Malaysia opposes Singapore.