by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A first ever ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles semi-final for 16 year old Sun Yingsha and only a second for 18 year old Wang Manyu, both commenced matters in a relaxed manner, both moved well.
The early advantage went to Sung Yingsha, she secured the opening game after leading 8-4 and then losing the next six points before levelling at 10-all. Eventually she won the game 16-14 with both players having chances to secure success.
Confident, the more positive player, Sun Yingsha clinched a close second game. However, Wang Manyu is no stranger to losing the opening two games and then recovering; in the previous round she had surrendered the first two games against the host nation’s Mima Ito, before winning the next four.
In opposition to her compatriot, it was a different scenario; Sun Yingsha, the expert of the forehand flicked return of service, captured a close third game in which, as in the first, both had chances to win the encounter.
Now increasingly confident, maintaining her positive approach, in the fourth game Sun Yingsha went ahead 3-1, Wang Manyu called “Time Out”, it was to no avail, her compatriot was in the ascendancy; Wang Manyu was never able to gain parity. At 10-7 Sun Yingsha held three match points, she needed just one; the semi-final place was secured.
“This is my first event in the senior category, so I don’t have much pressure to perform here in Japan, just had to fight my best against her during the match. I played better than what I expected. We are familiar with each other, also I was well prepared. I was able to take win the crucial points at the start and was able to play better in the later part of the match. I was also able to accurately anticipate the placement of the ball today and that was the key to winning this match as I had the whole match in control.” Sun Yingsha
A straight games win for Sun Yingsha, it was five games for Chen Meng; in the opening too games against Han Ying, Chen Meng proved too consistent, too reliable at the crucial times, the exquisite technique standing firm when pressure mounted. Forehand topspin early in the rally directed to the backhand of Han Ying and then change the direction towards the elbow of her adversary, the so-called indecision point, proved effective. At 6-5 in favour of Chen Meng in the third game, Han Ying called “Time Out”.
Chen Meng went ahead 9-6, the next two points went to Han Ying; Xiao Shan, the Chinese national coach sitting courtside, called “Time Out”. Stalwart defence but the next two points went to Chen Meng.
Now, three games to nil in arrears, Han Ying fought, Chen Meng made errors, Han Ying captured the fourth game but in the fifth made a quite ideal start; she established a 6-1 lead.
“I’m satisfied with my performance today against Han Ying, taking control of the match most of the time to take the lead. In the fourth game, after recovering from 1-6 to 7-6, she had a net ball which disrupted my rhythm and the rest of that game. I was kind of waiting for her to make errors. After making adjustments, I regained control and it was easier win.” Chen Meng
Once again Han Ying fought but was never able to gain parity; Chen Meng eventually prevailed, a rendezvous later in the day against Sun Yingsha was reserved.