by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A debut in in Wuhu in 2001, the event in which China’s Zhang Yining won the first of her four Women’s World Cup titles; in Markham, Liu Jia will be making her 12th appearance in the prestigious annual tournament.
She will equal the record of Hong Kong’s Tie Yana, who when competing last year in Philadelphia, achieved the round dozen; this year there is no Tie Yana. The Hong Kong representatives are from a totally new generation, one that has been honed in the Special Administrative Region as opposed to predecessors, as in case of Tie Yana, who move allegiance from China.
Notably, Tie Yana reached no less than nine Women’s World Cup semi-finals, five times she finished in fourth place; in 2002 in Singapore, two years later in Xiaoshan and in 2011, once again in Singapore, she was the bronze medallist. In 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, she was the runner up, beaten in the final by China’s Li Xiaoxia.
Conversely, just as in the Men’s World Cup, Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan tries and tries again to the reach the semi-final stage and possible podium finish, the recent Liebherr 2017 Men’s World Cup in Liège being no less than his 15th attempt without achieving the goal, it is very much the same scenario for Liu Jia.
On six occasions she has departed proceedings at the quarter-final stage, on the other five, in the days when matters commenced with 16 players competing in four groups of four, she concluded her efforts in third position in the group.
A model of consistency and like Chuang Chih-Yuan, who in the Men’s World Cup has enjoyed his moments of glory with wins over the likes of China’s Ma Long and Zhang Jike, it is the same for Liu Jia.
Ironically, arguably her best win came when she finished in third place in her group and was thus eliminated.
In 2006 in Urumqi, she beat none other than Li Xiaoxia, the future Olympic and World champion. She won in seven games (11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6) but then lost to Korea’s Kim Kyungah in five games (6-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9). After experiencing defeat at the hands of Liu Jia, Li Xiaoxia overcame Kim Kyungah in seven games (3-11, 11-3, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8). Thus on games ratio it was first position for Kim Kyungah (7:5), runners up spot for Li Xiaoxia (7:7), both advanced to the quarter-finals; for Liu Jia it was the the end of the road.
Notably Liu Jia is the only player to represent Austria in the history of the Women’s World Cup.