by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Success for Feng Tianwei was very much as expected, since the 2012 ITTF World Tour Japan Open in Kobe, the two had met on seven occasions in world ranking events, Feng Tianwei had won all seven; in Bremen she increased the number to eight.
“The first two games were tough and very close but I was calm and patient and managed to win them. After that I think I played in a much better rhythm.” Feng Tianwei
Success as anticipated, although Cheng I-Ching was the seeded player and Sun Yingsha was the qualifier, did the events of the past nine months suggest the opposite? On the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Sun Yingsha had sensationally won in Japan before the following week in China reaching the final. Furthermore as the year closed, she was crowned World Junior champion before earlier this year being Women’s Singles runner up in Hungary.
Bronze medallist at the Uncle Pop 2017 ITTF Women’s World Cup Presented by Polar Naturals but did that success gained by Cheng I-Ching compare favourably with the efforts of Sun Yingsha? In reality was Sun Yingsha the favourite? You would have received short odds or evens
“It was a really tough match; it gave me a headache. I was thinking about the tactics on every single point. I was really not easy when I was first behind and then led before finally winning the match. Trailing, I was thinking about what my coach said, to slow down my tempo, to get the points one by one and don’t be too anxious.” Cheng I-Ching
Success for Cheng I-Ching; it was success in a contest where arguably Sun Yingsha spurned opportunities
“I think I played normal, maybe I was a bit nervous. Cheng I-Ching played very well today. She managed to make her comeback into the game after I had the initial lead. She gave an excellent performance today. I was leading in game five and ahead 8-5 in game six but I didn’t hold on to the chance. Of course I am not happy about losing the match but I think it will be helpful in my growth and future.” Sun Yingsha
The defeat of Sun Yingsha and that of earlier in the evening, when Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.2 seed, accounted for Wu Yang (14-12, 7-11, 11-4, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7) like Sun Yingsha a qualifier, means that no Chinese player has progressed to the penultimate round.
At the semi-final stage Feng Tianwei meets Korea’s Suh Hyowon, the no.14 seed, Cheng I-Ching confronts Kasumi Ishikawa,
“I lost to Suh Hyowon at the Asian Cup last year, so this time I have to be more positive mentally and just fight, try my best. I will also have to be very patient playing against her.” Feng Tianwei
Notably nine Chinese players commenced play in the Women’s Singles event, none reached the semi-final stage, the last day of play. Furthermore there were players of note amongst the group, five in the guise of Chen Xingtong, Mu Zi, Sun Yingsha, Wen Jia and Wu Yang had ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles titles to their name.
A most unusual situation, when did that last happen on the ITTF World Tour? Never!