China Retains Title and Settles another Instalment on Singapore Debt
The winners in November 2009 in the Indian city of Lucknow, a flight of one hour from the country’s capital city of New Delhi, China successfully defended their Women’s Team title at the Asian Championships in Macao on the evening of Saturday 25th February 2012.
However they faced a very spirited and determined outfit from Singapore
Following their defeat at the hands of Singapore at the Liebherr World Team Championships in Moscow in May 2010, there is a debt to be settled; gradually that debt is being settled.
Another payment was made in the East Asia Games Dome.
China beat Singapore by three matches to one.
Guo Yan beat Feng Tianwei (11-8, 12-10, 11-6), Guo Yue overcame Li Jiawei (11-4, 6-11, 11-4, 13-11) to give China a two matches to nil lead. Yu Mengyu reduced the deficit by defeating Liu Shiwen (7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8) before Guo Yue ended matters.
She accounted for Feng Tianwei in four games (11-3, 12-10, 5-11, 11-9).
Once again there was no Wang Yuegu in the Singapore line-up.
Currently she is suffering from an arm injury; thus, as in the semi-final duel against Japan, Yu Mengyu joined forces with Feng Tianwei and Li Jiawei.
Rallies at a Premium
The duel between Guo Yan and Feng Tianwei, the match which opened proceedings, was a contest between two players who were well known to each other; the points were short and brief, rallies were at a premium.
Guo Yan captured the first game after Feng Tianwei had held an early lead; in the second game it was very much the same scenario. Guo Yan trailed 5-8; then she won five points in a row to lead 9-8.
Second Game Sways Momentum
Zhou Shushen, the Singapore coach, called “Time Out” but the momentum was with Guo Yan.
At 10-9, she held one game point, Feng Tianwei saved, at 11-10 Guo Yan held a second game point; this time the advantage was converted, a controlled backhand top spin from the Guo Yan racket directed towards the body of Feng Tianwei produced an error. The attempted block by the Singaporean flew long and high; Guo Yan was in the driving seat.
In the third game she assumed control, she went ahead 9-5; Shi Zhihao, the Chinese National Team Women’s Coach called “Time Out”; one wondered if there was any need but against Singapore, having had a dagger thrust into their heart in Moscow in May 2010, no chances were being taken.
There can be no criticism of the decision, Guo Yan surrendered just one further point; China held the lead.
Guo Yue Makes Fast Start
Any nerves that may have been present in the Chinese camp had been quelled; Guo Yue faced Li Jiawei in the second contest of the fixture.
Renowned for her electric rapid-fire forehand, Guo Yue made a fast start; she dominated the first game, one-way traffic.
Li Jiawei Responds
However, in the second game, Li Jiawei responded, she established an 8-4 lead; Guo Yue won the next point, immediately Zhou Shushen lept to his feet and called “Time Out”.
Arguably, it was rather early in the proceedings to make the decision but it proved successful; Li Jiawei conceded just one more point. She had totally reversed the trend of the opening game.
In the third game, Guo Yue was at high speed, dominant, her fast forehand top spin play being too hot to handle. However, in the fourth game Li Jiawei went ahead 7-3; Guo Yue levelled at 7-all.
The Singaporean re-grouped; she won the next two points but then serving Guo Yue levelled at 9-all.
Guo Yue won the next point, Li Jiawei levelled; then following a lethal forehand, Guo Yue held a second match point. Shi Zhihao called “Time Out”. Li Jiawei levelled before Guo Yue forged a third match point, both players failing to return the other’s service.
A third match point, they say third time lucky; for Guo Yue it was third time successful. China held a two-nil lead.
Success for Guo Yan and Guo Yue but for Liu Shiwen it was defeat; a result that seemed far from possible in the early stages of the contest.
She proved too fast for Yu Mengyu in the opening match of the contest; in the second she went ahead 7-5. Zhou Shushen called “Time Out”; the break worked but not for Singapore. Liu Shiwen surrendered just one more point; China was one game away from settling another instalment of the debt.
One day earlier when beating Kasumi Ishikawa in the fixture against Japan; Yu Mengyu had shown strength of character; against Liu Shiwen she refused to lie down.
In the third game she went ahead 10-6; four game points, two were saved but not a third. There was the faintest glimmer of hope for Singapore.
Positive, Yu Mengyu established a 7-3 lead in the third game; it was a lead she never relinquished. A deciding fifth game beckoned.
Yu Mengyu attacked from the very start of the decisive fifth game, she took risks and in her desperation to be positive, she trailed 3-5 when the players changed ends; the next point went to Yu Mengyu. Shi Zhihao called “Time Out”.
The break worked in favour of Yu Mengyu; her backhand especially effective she moved ahead 8-5 as doubts appeared in the mind of Liu Shiwen.
Irrepressible, Yu Mengyu moved ahead 10-6, four match points; two were saved but not a third, a rapier-like forehand ended the duel. The glimmer of hope for Singapore widened.
Guo Yue Returns
Singapore fighting back, China seeking to stave off the recovery; Guo Yue and Feng Tianwei entered the arena.
Guo Yue started like an express train; she dominated the first game but the second was much different.
At 9-all it was parity, Shi Zhihao called “Time Out”; it proved a shrewd move, Guo Yue secured the game 12-10; the door was closing on Singapore.
Feng Tianwei Recovered
Facing defeat Feng Tianwei played freely, she won the third game but in the fourth lost the first three points.
Zhu Shushen called “Time Out”; nervous moments followed; at 8-all it was parity with Guo to serve. Both points went to Guo Yue, she returned too high, on the first attack Guo Yue secured success on both occasions.
At 10-9, Guo Yue held match point; the point was won by the Chinese star; the title was secured, there was to be no Moscow repeat, just a Lucknow repeat.
Once again the title belonged to China.
Article by Ian Marshal, photos By Gai Ding