by Ian Marshall, Editor
The 25 year old, the no.2 seed, is drawn in the same initial stage group as Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee and Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching; players against whom she has an unblemished record.
Equally, last week in Qatar, the three adversaries for Chen Meng all disappeared from view in the opening round; Cheng I-Ching and Lee Ho Ching both lost to colleagues, Cheng I-Ching at the hands of Cheng Hzien-Tzu, Lee Ho Ching when facing Doo Hoi Kem. Similarly, Jeon Jihee was beaten by China’s He Zhuojia.
Cheng I-Ching is the no.4 seed, a position that suggests she is a major challenger honours but she has never won an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series women’s singles title, in March she came close losing to Japan’s Hina Hayata in the Oman final. Also she has never secured a podium finish at the Asian Cup. Conversely at the Women’s World Cup in 2016 in Philadelphia she was the runner up, before in 2017 in Markham and last year in Chengdu finishing in third place!
History and present form suggests Cheng Meng is favourite for first place, it is the same for colleague Zhu Yuling, the top seed; she is drawn in the same group as Japan’s Miu Hirano, Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Thailand’s Suhasini Sawettabut. Memorably, Zhu Yuling lost to Miu Hirano at the semi-final stage of the women’s singles event at the Seamaster 2017 Asian Championships in Wuxi but since that date, the next four meetings, including last year at the Asian Cup in Yokohama, have all been won by Zhu Yuling.
Miu Hirano is the no.5 seed and thus in medal contention but arguably the best chance for a Japanese podium finish rests on the shoulders of Kasumi Ishikawa; she is the no.3 seed and is drawn in the same group as Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the 2015 winner. Korea Republic’s Suh Hyowon and Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu complete the group
Feng Tianwei, the no.6 seed, is favourite to progress to the quarter-finals and perhaps she is pleased that she does not face India’s Manika Batra in the initial phase; the player who last year was the nemesis of Singapore at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Manika Batra is drawn in the regional group and a Singaporean adversary awaits. She is in the same group as Lin Ye; the question is how much has Manika Batra improved in the past two years. They have met five times on the international scene between 2014 at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the 2016 ITTF World Tour Austrian Open; Lin Ye has won all five encounters. Qatar’s Maha Faramarzi and Iran’s Mahshid Ashtari complete the group
All matches in the first stage, including the play-off round are best of five games; best of seven commences with the quarter-finals.