by Wade Townsend
Singapore’s Feng Tianwei is special. Unlike 99 per cent of the players in the draw, men or women, she has stood on top of the podium above China at a World Championships.
At the World Teams in 2010 in Moscow Feng Tianwei defeated both Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen in five games. That’s akin to reaching the summit of Everest, or harder still, making it through the day without seeing a fidget spinner meme on Facebook.
Since October last year, Feng has been supporting her own table tennis. She wasn’t considered part of the Singapore Table Tennis Association’s ‘rejuvenation plans’ and was unceremoniously kicked out of the national team. This means no coaching, no training and no practice partners provided by STTA. But that hasn’t stopped her. She won the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Korea Open. It seems too that her personality is coming through more and more both on and off the court. Let’s face it, Feng Tianwei is cooler than you.
Her skill level is basically unrivalled. The Japanese players are good, but Feng is technically more proficient in every aspect of her game. Her forehand is perhaps a little small compared to her Chinese adversaries, and could be her downfall in Germany. But if she can tie the game up around the backhand half she should have mostly smooth sailing.
So what’s her chances in Düsseldorf? She is the number four seed. Guess what that means? There is a decent chance she won’t be facing off against a Chinese opponent until the semi-final. If she receives a blessed draw and avoids Chen Meng, a medal should be hers. And gold? Well she is going to need some help and hope at least one of the top three seeds makes a surprise exit. If that happens, Feng could be standing on top of the world once again.