by Ian Marshall, Editor
Thus Chen Meng maintained her current level of ascendancy over Wang Manyu; last December she prevailed in five games when they met at the quarter-final stage at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon; in January she succeeded in straight games in Hungary in the penultimate round and more recently at the same round in Budapest at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships.
Moreover, always when they have met in an ITTF World Tour women’s singles final, Chen Meng has emerged successful; she prevailed in 2017 in both Qatar and Australia, as well as last year in Austria.
Success against an adversary, who like Chen Meng has an incredible level of consistency, but watch her play and does Wang Manyu not to some extent defy the coaching textbook?
Rewind the final of her matches, rewind the final against Chen Meng and look at the difference when they receive service. Chen Meng is totally orthodox, playing against the right hander when receiving service her feet are at an angle to the table. It is with very subtle variations how a million and one players stand to receive service against an opponent who uses the same hand; it is how they are encouraged by their mentors.
Now watch Wang Manyu receive service, she stands parallel to the table; a player who receives service with her feet at that manner will surely have more problems that most when the opponent directs attacking strokes towards the so-called indecision point, the elbow of the playing arm where the split second decision has to be made whether to play a backhand or forehand.
Yet, Wang Manyu appears able to adapt and most importantly keep her balance; the forehand might not be of the classic variety when the direction of play is changed but for Wang Manyu it works, she executes the stroke with a minimum transfer of weight from the legs and recovers.
It was an area in which Chen Meng focused her early strokes in the rally but my word she was made to work hard; Wang Manyu responded time and time again. Chen Meng prevailed but was the reason more a question of confidence than tactical or technical?
She had won the most recent three encounters surrendering just two games, she started 12-2 ahead.