by Ian Marshall, Editor
In what could well considered one of the most exacting opponents to face in the preliminary phase, the young lady from Suzhou in Jiangsu Province accounted for the Korea Republic’s Yang Haeun, the winner early this year at the ITTF Challenge Polish Open in Spa.
Zhang Qiang won but she made life difficult for herself and even more difficult for her supporters.
Leading by three games to two, she was ahead 10-8 in the sixth, called “Time Out” at 10-9, held another match point at 11-10 and duly lost. Soon after in the seventh game, she established a 10-4 lead and then surrendered the next four points before her colleagues in the tiered seating breathed a sigh of relief. The eventual score line read success in seven games (11-7, 11-3, 6-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-13, 11-8).
“I knew her style of play, I knew she was fast and that I had to find solutions; I think the fact that I am a pen-holder gives me an advantage because very few players have any experience competing against that style of play. Today, when I was leading I started to think about winning and not focusing on playing and the tactics.” Zhang Qiang
Defeat for one notable name and there was defeat for another who, once upon a time was the nemesis of foreign players, the bodyguard for the Chinese National Team; winner of three ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles titles, China’s Wu Yang was beaten by the in-form, player of the moment. She experienced defeat at the hands of Japan’s Saki Shibata, the winner three days ago at the ITTF Challenge Belgium Open; a five games result was the outcome (11-9, 11-5, 11-9, 2-11, 11-7).
A result to note and there was one more that attracted attention; gold medallists at the most recent Youth Olympic Games met, the decision went in favour of Nanjing in opposition to Buenos Aires, an all Chinese affair, Liu Gaoyang beat Sun Yingsha (13-11, 4-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8).