by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Contrasting styles in the fact that Zhang Mo uses short pimpled rubber on the forehand as opposed to the smooth reversed surface employed on both sides of the racket by Zhang Mo.
It was Lily Zhang who captured the opening game, being one of the very few players in the whole tournament who was able to adjust to the style of Zhang Mo.
In fact Lily Zhang appeared comfortable when executing her backhand top spin stroke down the line towards the forehand of Zhang Mo; the forehand fast attacking strokes from the Canadian having caused every other adversaries in San José, a whole host of problems.
Impressively, she secured the second game, before winning the first three points of the third. Zhang Mo called “Time Out”. The break worked but not for Zhang Mo. Lily Zhang increased the lead to 7-3 as doubts crept into the mind of the Canadian.
Mistakes accrued from the racket of Zhang Mo; the more consistent player, Lily Zhang never relinquished the advantage, a three games to nil lead was established.
Lily Zhang, confident, moved ahead 5-1 in the fourth game; Zhang Mo, displaying minimal emotion reduced the deficit to two points at 7-5, Lily Zhang called “Time Out”. Zhang Mo won the next point but was never able to gain parity; at 10-7 Lily Zhang held three match points; she converted at the first opportunity.
“Mentally I was really well prepared today; in my mind I could imagine myself winning. I felt confident in the rallies; the “Time Out” in the fourth game was really just to calm myself down. I thought it best not to take any risks and play consistently.” Lily Zhang
Success and a watershed moment; it will be the second time that Lily Zhang will have competed in the Women’s World Cup; she played last year in Philadelphia but as the host nation player, not a qualifier.