by Ian Marshall, Editor
Beaten by Ding Ning on every previous encounter on international scene, including three times this year, on the ITTF World Tour in Austria and Bulgaria as well as at the Uncle Pop Women’s World Cup in Chengdu, it was Kasumi Ishikawa who made the better start.
After trailing for much of the opening game Kasumi Ishikawa secured success by the narrowest of margins, before in an equally close second game repeating the feat. One expected that in the third game Ding Ning would come out all guns blazing, it was quite the reverse; Kasumi Ishikawa won the first four points, Ding Ning called “Time Out”. Kasumi Ishikawa secured the next point but the next three went the way of Ding Ning. Now Kasumi Ishikawa called “Time Out”.
Two points clear, Kasumi Ishikawa maintained the advantage, at 10-8; she held two points for a three games to nil lead. It was at that stage we witnessed the incredible mental strength of Ding Ning. No disrespect to Kasumi Ishikawa but Ding Ning was making an unusually high number of errors, especially from the forehand. Nothing extravagant, keeping the ball on the table, Ding Ning won the next four points; those four points changed the balance of the match.
“I thought I should have won the first game, I led 10-6. I lost the game; I always seem to have the problem of being a slow starter. I never think about the score, just how I am going to approach each point. I made several mistakes in the first three games. After I won the third game I was much more confident; at the same time I think Ishikawa was under pressure.” Ding Ning
Following the tactic of consistency, she secured the next two games, simply determined to outlast her opponent; any potential moment of crisis, the traditional squat service prevailed.
Now not fighting herself, in the sixth, Ding Ning established a 6-3 lead, at 10-5 she held five game points; then best point of the match, vintage Ding Ning, the point secured, a place in the semi-final reserved.