by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Guided throughout by Massimo Costantini, the Indian national coach, thus for the second time in the tournament, Manika Batra had beaten the player who, prior to proceedings commencing in Gold Coast, had never lost a match of any description in the Commonwealth Games. In the final of the Women’s Team event, Manika Batra had prevailed in a full distance duel (11-8, 8-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7); in both duels a full house in the Oxenford Studios being captivated by the tension of the occasions,
At the end of the fifth game it appeared Feng Tianwei had asserted control and that it would be only a matter of time before she secured victory. Manika Batra had other ideas, in the vital seventh game at 10-9 she held match point; then drama, the crowd gasped, ready to stand and salute the Indian but then reality. A forehand top spin from Feng Tianwei clipped the very edge of the table; one less coat of paint and it would have missed.
Matters level at 10-all, Feng Tianwei won the next point, determined, Manika Batra won the next three points; Indian supporters leapt to their feet in hysterics.
“The edge ball at 10-9, I just thought to myself start again and keep fighting. I lost the fourth and fifth game; I was very composed, I wasn’t shouting. In the sixth and seventh games I was shouting when I won a point; that put her under pressure. I think the big difference now is my forehand attack; in the past year I’ve practised that a great deal; that’s the main for progress in the past year. Playing Feng Tianwei, I just put it out of my mind that she is the world number four, just play her like any other player and give your best. Now, I’m just speechless.” Manika Batra
“In the fourth and fifth games Manika couldn’t put two forehands on the table, one on, one off; I told her that if she wanted to beat a player who is ranked number four in the world, she must put more balls on the table. Somehow you have to unlock the skills of a player. In the sixth and seventh games Manika recovered, Feng Tianwei kept playing to Manika’s backhand. Manika’s strength is the backhand not the forehand but in the last two games she was more consistent.” Massimo Costantini
Defeat for Singapore but in the immediately ensuing contest it was success for the south east Asia city state; Yu Mengyu, the no.3 seed, beat Canada’s Zhang Mo, the no.2 seed, in five games (11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5) the consistent top spin play of the Singaporean they key to victory.
“You need to be aware that when Zhang Mo plays from the forehand, the short pimples, the ball goes down. However, it did not cause me any problems; basically I focused my attacking strokes towards the middle. Feng Tianwei lost but I didn’t watch the match I was outside the hall preparing for my match.” Yu Mengyu
The bronze medal match is scheduled for later in the day at 6.10 pm, the gold medal contest follows at 7.00 pm.