by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Memories of days when players dressed in rather conservative colours have now long gone; did we once describe the Chinese are inscrutable?
They are the opposite, Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling proved the point, outgoing and charming, the fact reflected in their trend setting attire, black shirts contrasted with neon lime skirts.
Fashion conscious, they were also conscious of the task in hand; they captured the first two games. Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu responded to capture the third but in the fourth game, the Chinese duo once again asserted their authority.
Ahead but the Singaporeans stuck to their task; they reduced the deficit to one point at 9-8, it prompted Li Sun, the Chinese national coach, sitting courtside to call “Time Out”. The break worked, not one more point was surrendered.
The two game margin restored, Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling made a quick-fire start in the fifth game; they won the first three points. Little choice, Hao Anlin, the Singaporean national coach, called for a break.
Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu responded, breath-taking rallies but they were never able to gain parity. At 10-7 they held three match points, they needed just one; a razor sharp forehand flick over the table from Zhu Yuling ended matters.
Defeat for Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu; soon after it was defeat for Hina Hayata and Mima Ito but the Japanese duo, both born in the year 2000, both still only 16 years old, could leave with a great sense of pride.
They tested a much more experienced pair, they applied pressure; Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen deciding in the third game to take a “Time Out” when 9-6 ahead. The break worked in favour of China but great credit to Hina Hayata and Mima Ito, they secured the fourth game but there was to be no memorable recovery; status prevailed.
However, Hina Hayata and Mima Ito could leave Düsseldorf with great pride, the youngest ever Women’s Doubles semi-finalists in the history of the World Championships; a record to cherish.