by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The first game was on the proverbial knife-edge as varying her services with a degree of innovation, Miyu Kato put doubts in the Zhu Yuling, eventually for the Chinese star it was success by the minimal two point margin.
Win a close game and confidence blossoms, add to the much used phrase the words of Xiao Shan, the Chinese national team coach sitting courtside, the second game proved much different to the first. Zhu Yuling won the first ten points!
In the third game Zhu Yuling went ahead 5-3; Miyu Kato called “Time Out”; it appeared the break was in vain. Zhu Yuling won the next three points; Miyu Kato recovered to level at 9-all, before saving game point on two occasions and then succeeding on her second game point.
Suddenly, Miyu Kato was playing at a whole new level, in the second game she had been lost as sea; in the fourth game she traded blows with Zhu Yuling. Eventually the extra consistency of Zhu Yuling told, a three games to one advantage was secured.
Breathing space but Miyu Kato was not in a surrendering mood; Zhu Yuling went ahead 7-3, Miyu Kato won the next five points to lead 8-7. Fast counter attacking rallies, at 10-8 Zhu Yuling held two match points; incredibly Miyu Kato won the next four points, the overall deficit down to one game.
An enthralling duel had suddenly developed, in the sixth game, Miyu Kato went ahead 8-5, there were doubts in the mind of Zhu Yuling; at 10-6 Miyu Kato held four game points, two were saved, no more; a deciding seventh game awaited.
Tension, Miyu Kato matched Zhu Yuling in the counter topspin department but at the change of ends, Zhu Yuling led 5-2, then 7-4; Zhu Yuling called “Time Out”. The break bore fruit, at 10-4 Zhu Yuling held six match points, she needed just one.
“There were some details in which I did not do well; she has very special services; the match went to seven games and I took the “Time Out” at the right time. I trusted in myself.” Zhu Yuling
A brave effort and a further disappointment for Miyu Kato, to be confirmed officially but she will just miss out to receive a Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals invitation