By Neha Aggarwal
Both the pairs entered the match with immense pressure as earlier in the day China’s leading legends, both Ma Long and Ding Ning were knocked out of the tournament. Ding Ning was beaten by Japan’s Miu Hirano. While China had to save it’s skin from losing another match to Japan, the Japanese pair was determined to continue their winning streak.
Mixed doubles was a classic revenge match, of China v/s Japan.
Even though the deliveries from the highly skilled pair of China, especially the from Zhou Yu were class apart, made a lot of difference for them, but it was the mental tenacity that proved to be the winning force.
“I think we came into the match with a good mindset because table tennis is firstly a combination of good skills and mindset. Although we have not paired for long, we have trust in each other. Representing the Chinese team, there’s for sure no problem with our skills, so our mentality is better than our opponent’s,” said Zhou Yu.
Zhou Yu and Chen Xingtong lead two games to one. In the fourth game, they had four match points with a lead of 10-6.
“In the fourth game when we were leading 2-1, we started to play with more caution, controlling our first three strokes, and finding the opportunity to attack,” explained Zhou Yu.
But a powerful smash from Morizono helped the Japanese pair save one match point moving slightly closer to 10-7. China’s coach Li Sun, who was also the coach of double Olympic Champion Zhang Yining, immediately responded to the situation and called for a time out.
Despite conceding one more match point after the time out, the Chinese pair held their nerves. At 10-8, a thunderous backhand topspin from Zhou Yu went past the Japanese pair like a bullet on fire. The Japanese were stunned. Li Sun jumped in joy as the Chinese pair hugged in celebration with Chen Xingtong spotting a million dollar smile.
Zhou Yu and Chen Xingtong beat Masataka Morizono and Mima Ito in four games 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8.
The determined Japanese pair
The time out was important, because the Japanese never give up. “Yesterday when Ito and Morizono were competing with Fang Bo & Wang Manyu, we were observing at the side. They are very aggressive in their play , so we have to find problems and solutions in terms of tactics and strategies. They are a very strong and determined pair, no matter how much we are leading, their desire to come back remains strong, just like in their match against Fang Bo & Wang Manyu,” explained Zhou Yu.
Chen Xingtong’s smiles after winning gave clear signals on how pressurized they were before the match.
“I think Morizono trains very hard, each time we go into the practice hall, he’s always training there, and it’s not just these few days, but during other events as well. So my impression of him is that he’s a very determined player. Mima Ito on the other hand, even though she’s very young, she’s already at the Olympic level, with innovative and aggressive playing style. She’s a main competitor of our team.”- Chen Xingtong
The magic formula
Despite a new pairing with Zhou Yu, she explained why it was comfortable to pair with him:
“After winning the first title together, of course we hope to pair again to win another. I think the reason why we were able to build trust and understanding between us is because he really talks a lot.”
“Usually it’s tougher to communicate between between opposite genders, but because both of us talk a lot, it makes communication between us easier and compensates the fact that we were a new mixed doubles pair.” – Chen Xingtong