by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Now 41 years old and listed at no.205 on the current Women’s World Rankings, she beat Germany’s Sabine Winter, named at no.59; she won six games (10-12, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5, 11-3, 11-3)
“I am playing in the French League at the moment; I’m playing more matches than in recent years. Today I was nervous at the start, especially in the first two games. Eventually I found a way. Five years ago I played in the German League and I played Sabine and won; I’ve never lost to her but I feel she has made a lot of progress since then. She is very strong with her forehand; so I played to her backhand and then switched to her forehand. I think today I was stronger on the first three attacking strokes.” Li Fen
Impressive from Li Fen, the lowest rated player in her group, the highest being Singapore’s Li Fen; there were several further performances from players in a similar position who won in style.
China’s Zhang Rui and Sun Mingyang excelled. Zhang Rui beat Spain’s Maria Xiao (11-5, 11-2, 11-5, 12-10); Sun Mingyang accounted for Hungary’s Szandra Pergel (11-8, 11-4, 11-5, 11-9). Similarly, Miyu Nagasaki accounted Szandra Pergel, like Dora Madarasz from Hungary (11-4, 11-9, 12-10, 11-4).
Notable performances as play began and there was one more to catch the eye. Liu Shiwen beat Chinese national team colleague, Wu Yang in a repeat of the 2013 Women’s World Cup final. Wu Yang has not enjoyed the best of fortunes in Doha. One year ago she was beaten in the opening round by Poland’s Natalia Partyka, one of the very few times in her career that she has lost to an adversary from foreign shores. Consistent, Liu Shiwen won in four straight games (11-6, 13-11, 11-7, 11-5).
Players finishing in first place in groups no.1 to no.11 advance directly to the main draw; players who top groups no.12 to no.21 must compete in a preliminary round.