14 Dec 2017

Sheer drama, followed by anti-climax brought the first session of play in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to a close on the afternoon of Thursday 14th December.

In a contest decided by the very narrowest of seven game margins, Gu Yuting, the no.5 seed, beat Japan’s Miu Hirano in a spellbinding contest (11-5, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6, 9-11, 12-14, 11-9).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Gu Yuting established a three games to one lead; in the fifth she led 8-7, Miu Hirano called “Time Out” and duly progressed to secure the game.

Throughout the contest Miu Hirano was not only causing her adversary problems by attacking quickly from the backhand and creating angles; also the fast forehand executed down-the-line proved a winning ploy.

Playing at trademark high speed, Miu Hirano trailed 2-3 in the sixth game but then won the next five points to lead 7-3; Gu Yuting responded, she secured the next six points to move into a 9-7 lead. At 10-9 she held match point, Miu Hirano saved; then at 11-10 and 12-11 it was Gu Yuting’s turn to save the game. She did but she could not repeat the success when facing the situation for a third time. A decisive seventh game beckoned.

You have to give great credit to Miu Hirano, the was no hint of dejection or desperation; no unnecessary emotion, she just kept playing, seemingly enjoying playing table tennis. Nowhere, was her character the better illustrated than in the decisive seventh game.

Impressive, Gu Yuting went ahead 6-0 before Miu Hirano responded; she reduced the arrears to one point at 9-8. The next point went to Gu Yuting, two match points; serving Miu Hirano saved one match point but then, attempting to serve short, served into the net.

Relief for Gu Yuting, for Miu Hirano she leant forward over the table, smiled as much as to say “what a silly thing to do” but that’s her character, no recriminations. However, make no mistake, behind the smiling face, there is mental strength.

Success for Gu Yuting, earlier there had been success for colleagues, Chen Meng and Chen Xingtong as well as for Singapore’s Feng Tianwei.

Chen Meng, the top seed, beat Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.14 seed (11-5, 11-8, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8; Chen Xingtong, the no.5 seed, accounted for Germany’s Shan Xiaona, the no.10 seed (11-2, 11-6, 12-10, 5-11, 12-10). Meanwhile, Feng Tianwei, the no.8 seed, ended the hopes of Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.16 seed (11-7, 7-11, 17-15, 11-5, 11-8).

The second session of matches in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event will be played on Friday 15th December commencing at 1.00pm (local time).

2017 Seamaster Grand Finals Miu Hirano Gu Yuting

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