by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Chen Xingtong secured the opening two games, both by the minimal two point margin, the second after saving two game points; safe and sound from the backhand, the fast rapid-fire forehand lethal.
Ever more confident, moving quickly, in the third game, Chen Xingtong, established a 5-2 lead. Always seeking to seize the initiative, she increased the lead to 8-4; fast close to the table counter attacking rallies were predominantly the order of proceedings as Ding Ning gradually worked her way back to level at 9-all.
It was a crucial stage of the contest, Chen Xingtong secured the next point, Ding Ning levelled; then at 11-10 held the advantage. Absorbing the fast attacking play of Chen Xingtong, she won the point, the difference was down to one game.
Immediately Chen Xingtong responded, uninhibited, she won the fourth game; the forehand top spin stroke executed down the line, proving a point winner. Exercising her counter attacking skills to the full, following the policy of keeping the ball on the table to force errors from her opponent, Ding Ning won the fifth game and sixth games.
Comparing the two players, Chen Xingtong was moving the better; Ding Ning appeared restricted in her movement; the lower back clearly giving some discomfort.
“My lower back does hurt but I’ve not been involved in regular training since July.” Ding Ning
A seventh game beckoned, at the change of ends Ding Ning led 5-3; she extended the lead to 6-3; Chen Xingtong called “Time Out”. Positive, Chen Xingtong levelled at 8-all; the next two points were shared, before at 10-9 Chen Xingtong held match point. A major opportunity, the chance was seized.
“I’m so happy to have won; I was losing in the seventh game but I kept fighting. You must never give up. Ding Ning made many changes when serving which caused some difficulties; I think my forehand top spin down the parallel was key feature.” Chen Xingtong
It was the second career win for Chen Xingtong who won the first and last. Earlier in the year in late January, she succeed in Hungary, the first tournament on the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour, now she has won at the last on the calendar, the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open.
Furthermore, it was some win; at the quarter-final stage she beat Chen Meng, listed at no.2 on the current Women’s World Rankings; then Zhu Yuling who occupies top spot and finished with Ding Ning, the reigning Olympic and Worl champion! Not bad for a qualifier!