by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
She performed not only the most remarkable recovery of the tournament to date, arguably it was the most remarkable of her career.
The no.11 seed, she trailed Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.6 seed by three games to nil, before in the fifth game saving no less than four match points prior to securing victory in seven games (5-11, 4-11, 10-12, 11-8, 18-16, 12-10, 11 -8).
Undoubtedly, the fifth game was the most pivotal in the overall context of the match; equally the sixth was crucial.
An injection of confidence having faced the brink of defeat in the previous game, Chen Szu-Yu established a 10-6 lead in the fifth; Doo Hoi Kem reduced the deficit to one point at 10-9, Chen Szu-Yu called “Time Out”. Doo Hoi Kem levelled before Chen Szu-Yu won the next two points to force a decider.
In the vital seventh game, Doo Hoi Kem moved ahead 4-2 and held a one point advantage at 5-4 when the players changed ends. Chen Szu-Yu won three of the next four points to move ahead 7-6; now Doo Hoi Kem called “Time Out”. She levelled but in a match full of fast counter attacking rallies, short efficient strokes and outstanding balance from both players, Doo Hoi Kem was to win just one more point.
At 10-7, Chen Szu-Yu held three match points, was there to be another twist to the tale? Not so, Chen Szu-Yu closed the door and on her first ever appearance in a Women’s World Cup booked a quarter-final place.
Defeat for Doo Hoi Kem and an unwanted record; she has never won a match in the Women’s World Cup, her one previous appearance was in 2015 in Sendai when in the initial group stage, she finished in third place behind Li Jiao of the Netherlands and Egypt’s Dina Meshref. In Markham she was a direct entry to the main draw.
A tension packed contest, the immediate ensuing contest was less dramatic; Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the runner up in Huangshi in 2012 and the no.8 seed in Markham ended the hopes of Korea’s Suh Hyowon, the no.9 seed (11-6, 4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-2).
Problems in the second game for the Romanian but once the third was secured, Elizabeta Samara was very much in control.
Defeat in the opening round for Suh Hyowon; the same as on her two prior appearances in 2014 in Linz and one year later in Sendai.