by Ian Marshall, Editor
The loss of the first three points but then seven in a row; it was a highly motivated Ding Ning who captured the opening game, the scenario very much as we have witnessed time and time again, the longer the rally lasted the more the current Olympic and World champion was the favourite.
Backhand to backhand close to the table counter topspin exchanges were the order of proceedings as each player tried to nullify their opponent’s forehand. Ding Ning proved the better at the skill. She won the second game before in the third moving ahead 4-1; Mika Baba, the Japanese coach on duty called “Time Out”. The decision proved in vain. Ding Ning accelerated, increased the pressure and established an 8-2 lead before securing the game in an authoritative manner.
Somewhat overwhelmed and making errors as the third game concluded; to her credit, Kasumi Ishikawa responded. At the start of the fourth game she stood toe to toe with Ding Ning, forcing her illustrious adversary to use her trademark squat service technique, a tactic to which Ding Ning resorts in times of crisis. Level at 5-all but at 10-8, Ding Ning held two match points, the first was saved not the second.
“I did not expect that I can beat her four-nil. Last time we met in Bulgaria, we had a very tough match. I feel very calm now. I am not in the best form now, so I am very satisfied that I can enter into final. I hope I can carry out some new skills that I have practiced recently.” Ding Ning
“I felt she had upper hand throughout the match. It was a pity that I could not win a single game off her. I did not do well in the first three strokes today. Ding Ning made a lot of variations in rallies and I was not able to adapt in time. I still have one match to play this afternoon. I hope I can play well.” Kasumi Ishikawa
Success for Ding Ning, soon after it was success for Zhu Yuling in a further contest in which backhand to backhand close to the table counter topspin play was very much in evidence; on occasions Cheng I-Ching taking the opportunity to change the direction of the play wide to the Zhu Yuling forehand but in so doing making mistakes.
Zhu Yuling dominated the opening two games but in the third Cheng I-Ching responded; she established a 9-7 lead but then lost the next three points, experiencing problems returning the Zhu Yuling service. Level at 11-all, Cheng I-Ching elected for “Time Out“, the break worked. There was now a sense of belief in the Cheng I-Ching mind.
The previous day against Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, Cheng I-Ching had trailed by two games to nil, before winning the third 13-11, the same score line as against Zhu Yuling, she had then had progressed to win the next three games and secure victory. There was to be no repeat, Zhu Yuling secured the fourth game in style before winning a hard earned fifth; a place in the final was reserved.
Cheng I-Ching now meets Kasumi Ishikawa in the third place contest, the match being scheduled for later in the day at 4.00 pm; the final featuring Zhu Yuling and Ding follows immediately.
Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women’s World Cup: Statistics provided by Beijing Sport University