29 Sep 2018

Convincing wins had been the order of the morning as play commenced in the opening round of the Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women's World Cup in Chendgu on Saturday 29th September.

However, as matters progressed, the matches that brought the round to an end were very predominantly very different.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

The one convincing performance and far more convincing than expected was that executed by Miu Hirano. The no.5 seed, she beat DPR Korea’s Kim Song I, the no.18 seed but more significantly, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games bronze medallist, in four straight games (11-7, 11-9, 11-5, 11-3).

One wondered as it was the first time on the international scene when Miu Hirano had faced Kim Song I, she may experience major problems; that theory was quickly dispelled.

Few problems for Miu Hirano, it was very different for her compatriot, Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.2 seed, the match that brought the round to a conclusion. She had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to end the hopes of Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, the no.13 seed (4-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8), a contest in which she gradually reduced the number of errors as the play progressed. Chen Szu-Yu proved the more consistent player at the start of the contest, Kasumi Ishikawa arguably tried to win the points too quickly.

Hard earned success for Kasumi Ishikawa, followed similarly hard earned success for Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.7 seed and increasingly one of the safest female players on planet earth. She overcame Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, the no.12 seed, in six games (6-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-6, 16-18, 11-8) and thus forged one ahead in their international encounters; of the 11 times they have met, Doo Hoi Kem has now won

“I made many mistakes in the receive of service at the beginning of fifth game. I was very confused and very conservative in that match. I have played in the World Cup twice before but lost in the first round. This time, I told myself to win this match. I made it so I felt very happy now.” Doo Hoi Kem

Six games to secure victory; on the adjacent table, the contest was even closer, Korea Republic’s Suh Hyowon, the no.6 seed, needed the full seven games to end the adventures of Australia’s Jian Fang Lay, the no.20 seed (11-6, 11-4, -11, 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-6).

The most attacking of the world’s modern day leading female defensive players, Suh Hyowon, her balance and movement as delightful as always, dominated the opening two games,  the third game life was somewhat different. Patient, keeping the ball on the table, exerting minimal top spin on the ball, Jian Fang Lay reversed the fortunes. She did the same in the fifth and sixth games to level matters.

Throughout, Jian Fang Lay never moved beyond the perimeters of the table, conversely, Suh Hyowon earned her reputation of being the dancing queen, she covered more than ten times the territory of her astute opponent. The question posed was as to whether Jian Fang Lay could finish the point when creating the chance.

At the start of the seventh game she made errors in that department, changing ends Suh Hyowon led 5-3, Jian Fang Lay levelled, Suh Hyowon called “Time Out”, it proved a most prudent decision. Suh Hyowon surrendered just one point as she became more positive in the forehand top spin department and errors returned when Jian Fang Lay she tried to finish the point.

“It was a tough match as expected. I think my focus in the last game was the key to winning the match.” Suh Hyowon

Defeat for Jian Fang Lay but she could depart Chengdu with head held high; her seventh appearance in the tournament was her best.

At the quarter-final stage Kasumi Ishikawa meets Miu Hirano, Suh Hyowon opposes Ding Ning; in the top half of the draw it is Zhu Yuling versus Sofia Polcanova, Cheng I-Ching in opposition to Doo Hoi Kem.

The matches will be played later in the day.

Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women’s World Cup: Statistic provided by Beijing Sport University

World Cup 2018 Uncle Pop Women's World Cup Kasumi Ishikawa Miu Hirano Doo Hoi Kem Suh Hyowon Jian Fang Lay