by Ian Marshall, Editor
Furthermore, for each member of the group it is not a new experience; in fact all four have in the past negotiated the penultimate round and reached the final. Zhu Yuling, and Ding Ning have both won the title; Kasumi Ishikawa and Cheng I-Ching have been runners up.
Zhu Yuling, the top seed, is the defending champion, having one year ago won in Markham; colleague Ding Ning owns the perfect record, two prior appearances, twice the winner. She succeeded in 2011 in Singapore and more recently in 2014 in Linz.
One step short, Kasumi Ishikawa was the runner up in Sendai in 2015, Cheng I-Ching one year later in Philadelphia but whatever the penultimate round outcome, whoever reaches the final, it will be a different opponent than in previous years.
Also from China, Liu Shiwen was the adversary for Zhu Yuling in Markham as she was for Kasumi Ishikawa in Sendai; for Ding Ning in both Singapore and Linz, the opponent in the title decider was now retired compatriot Li Xiaoxia. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Cheng I-Ching experienced defeat in the gold medal contest at the hands of Miu Hirano, in Chengdu beaten at the quarter-final stage by colleague, Kasumi Ishikawa.
Somewhat differently, both semi-finals are repeats. Last year in Markham Zhu Yuling beat Cheng I-Ching in the penultimate round en route to gold; in Linz in 2014 Ding Ning reserved her place in the final courtesy of success in opposition to Kasumi Ishikawa.
The evidence points towards an all Chinese final and if we look beyond the boundaries of the Women’s World Cup, the evidence is even stronger.
Since first meeting in 2010 at the Asian Junior Championships in Bangkok, of the 13 international encounters, Cheng I-Ching has won once; the occasion was in 2013 on the ITTF World Tour in the Chinese city of Suzhou.
Slightly differently, since a first engagement in 2010, also in Suzhou at the same tournament, Ding Ning has won all 14 contests against Kasumi Ishikawa, including this year succeeding on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour in both Australia and Bulgaria.
Perhaps the forecast for Cheng I-Ching does not look that bright in Chengdu but if you can beat a player once, you can beat them again! Meanwhile, for Kasumi Ishikawa, look on the bright side, the ball is round, there is always a first time!
The semi-finals commence at 10.30 am (local time), the third place contest at 4.00 pm (local time) followed by the final.
Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women’s World Cup: Statistics provided by Beijing Sport University