by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Coincidentally both in Africa, Feng Yalan was crowned World Junior champion in 2006 in Cairo; seven years later Gu Yuting succeeded in Rabat.
Furthermore, Gu Yuting seeks her first ever ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles title; Feng Yalan has three to her name; in 2010 she won in Germany notably beating compatriot Ding Ning in the final, having the previous day won the Under 21 Women’s Singles title.Later in 2012, she succeeded in Kuwait and Russia.
A tough adversary most certainly and Gu Yuting responded; she beat Feng Yalan in six games (6-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-2).
“I was playing very conservatively at the beginning which was why I was behind; when I was one-two down, I told myself not to rush and to slow down, to play more openly. It’s definitely very tough playing against a teammate, we know each other well. She is stronger than many other players here.” Gu Yuting
A hard fought win for Gu Yuting, it was the same for Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova. She eventually overcame Korea Republic’s An Soyeon by the very narrowest of decisions (9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 3-11, 12-10, 13-11).
“I didn’t play so well. I was nervous and could not find my rhythm during the match; when I was losing I told myself I should relax and just focus, not worry about winning or losing. It worked out and I managed to keep my focus. At the end I felt she was more nervous than me, so I was confident that I was going to win the match.” Barbora Balazova
Defeat for An Soyeon but there was a notable success for Korea Republic; Kim Haeyong, listed at no.419 on the current Women’s World Rankings, accounted for England’s Tin-Tin Ho, listed at no.96 (11-4, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7); the win being one of three upsets as play in the second round of the Women’s Singles qualification tournament came to a close.
The others were those recorded by Norway’s Ma Wenting against Spain’s Galia Dvorak (11-9, 11-4, 11-4, 11-7) and the all Chinese Taipei battle when Lee En-Chi accounted for Huang Yi-Hua (11-8, 11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6). Presently on the Women’s World Rankings, Ma Wenting stands at no.284, Galia Dvorak at no.87; similarly, Lee En-Chi is at no.704, Huang Yi-Hua at no.110.
Meanwhile, as the second Women’s Singles qualification round closed, in addition to Gu Yuting, the leading names emerged successful. Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun both enjoyed success. Jeon Jihee beat Thailand’s Phantita Pinyopsian (11-8, 11-1, 11-7, 11-2); Yang Haeun accounted for compatriot Lee Daeun (11-5, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5).
Similarly, not to be upstaged, Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai Yam ended the hopes of Chinese Taipei’s Liu Yu-Hsien (8-11, 13-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6).
“I did well overall because my condition is not very good, I feel very tired after the World Championships. I have had no rest, I have played a further three events in a row; for this reason I am satisfied with my performance and I am now looking forward to the next match so I can make the main draw.” Minnie Soo Wai Yam
The final preliminary round will be played later in the day.