by Kabir Nagpal
Chen Xingtong vs Ding Ning
‘Special’ was a word used on several occasions whenever Chen Xingtong was at the table in Macao, and make no mistake, her match against Ding Ning was well worthy of that word being mentioned.
Playing against the reigning Olympic Games champion, Chen exhibited her speed of thought as she came back from being 0-2 down to win the match 3-2 (10-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 14-12). Ding, who chose to oppose Chen in the quarter-final draw, looked set to have doomed the eighth seed to defeat but did not foresee her compatriot’s ability – and character – to fight her way back into the contest. Forcing a decider, Chen continued to push hard and was rewarded for her bravery, earning one of the standout victories of the event so far and with it a place in the semifinals.
Sun Yingsha vs Wang Manyu (Semi-final)
There’s always room for drama in rematches – and it is not often you get to see a rematch within the same weekend! Sun Yingsha, eventual champion of WTT Macao, got a sweet revenge against fellow Chinese Wang Manyu in the semi-final, having earlier lost a Top 4 seed battle to her.
On the day of the semi-final, the early momentum was firmly in Wang’s court as she made the brighter start. Sailing into a powerful lead, Wang then held match point on a sudden death point in game six but couldn’t convert. A deciding seventh required, Wang was presented with two further match point opportunities but back-to-back net shots helped Sun pull level at 10-10. Tension in the air, two further points went in Sun’s favour to bring a mighty contest to a close (8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 2-11, 11-7, 11-10, 12-10).
Lin Gaoyuan vs Hugo Calderano
The third pick in the comebacks list goes to China’s Lin Gaoyuan following his incredible effort against Brazilian superstar Hugo Calderano in their Top 4 Seed Battle match.
Off to a bright start, it was ‘The Thrill from Brazil’ who dominated the early play and looked to be well on his way to victory after establishing a two-game lead. However, Lin kept his hopes alive by claiming the crucial third game which appeared to propel him above and beyond his opponent, taking games four and five soon after to secure the win in scintillating fashion (2-5, 2-5, 5-3, 5-1, 5-2).
Chen Xingtong vs Chen Meng
How do you top off defeating the reigning Olympic Games champion? By eliminating the reigning Women’s World Cup champion of course!
Having conquered the Queen of Hearts in the quarter-final, the young Chinese went one step further and displayed her grit once again by recovering from 0-3 down against the world no. 1 Chen Meng. It was easily the comeback of the tournament, and it was more to do with the remarkable calm under pressure that Chen Xingtong operated with. Chen Xingtong showed courage to save a match point opportunity in game four before going on an incredible run. Four game wins on the bounce meant Chen Xingtong secured a highly sought-after ticket to the final.