Mixed emotions for Singapore, despair and delight
Disappointment for Singapore on the second day of play in the Women’s Team event at the 2018 Asian Games in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarata; it was a quarter-final exit.
On the penultimate day of action, Friday 31st August, for one member of that outfit it was the same emotion, for another, it was quite the reverse. Feng Tianwei departed the Women’s Singles event in round three; Yu Mengyu reserved a medal, she progressed to the semi-final stage.
Bronze medallist four years ago in Incheon when beaten by China’s Zhu Yuling, the eventual silver medallist, Feng Tianwei, the no.4 seed, suffered at the hands of Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee, the no.9 seed (13-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8).
“I played normal today but Jeon Jihee played aggressively and fast; I couldn’t keep up with the pace. From now till Tokyo 2020, I think I still have to work on many areas in order to improve; I need to improve my physical fitness, tactics, strategies and more”, said Feng Tianwei.
Problems for Feng Tianwei, for Yu Mengyu, the no.14 seed, it was quite the reverse; she excelled all expectations. In the third round she accounted for Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.6 seed (5-11, 13-11, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-6), before causing one of the biggest upsets in the whole tournament. She overcame Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.3 seed (11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-3).
Hard earned success, especially against Doo Hoi Kem but if any player secured a hard earned third round Women’s Singles victory it was Japan’s Miyu Kato, the no.7 seed. She recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat DPR Korea’s Kim Song I by the very narrowest of seven game margins (7-11, 2-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4, 14-12).
“I’m very excited now after winning. The Asian Games is a major event, so I had to have a strong mind-set, be confident and never give up. After the team event ended, I have been practising against the defensive style of play with the help of Malaysia’s Alice Chang”, explained Miyu Kato.
A dramatic win for Miyu Kato, in the next round she was beaten by Jeon Jihee in a contest that was even more dramatic. Once again a seventh game beckoned; Jeon Jihee led 9-8 in the decider, the stage at which the umpire called “Time”, the game having lasted ten minutes. The Expedite Rule was invoked. Jeon Jihee proceeded to win the next two points and the match (5-11, 10-12, 11-6, 7-11, 14-12, 11-8, 11-8) in a situation where the service alternates and the receiver wins the point if making an effective 13th return.
“It was a tough match; we played for so long that the umpire called expedite at 9-8, it’s the first time I have met this situation when playing against an attacker. She’s fast at changing her tactics in the match and varying her serves, so it was tough playing against her. After trailing three-one, I was able to better understand her style and changes she made, so I was better prepared and managed to come back to win the match”, said Jeon Jihee.
Success for Jeon Jihee and Yu Mengyu; now China awaits. At the semi-final stage Jeon Jihee meets Chen Meng, the top seed; Yu Mengyu opposes Wang Manyu, the no.2 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7).
Impressively, Chen Meng beat Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, the no.10 seed (11-5, 11-6, 11-3, 11-5) and Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching, the no.8 seed (11-8, 12-10, 11-7, 12-10); Wang Manyu accounted for India’s Manika Batra, the no.15 seed (11-2, 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4) and Korea Republic’s Su Hyowon, the no.5 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7) to reserve her place in the semi-finals.
“I was well prepared coming into the match; I was able to impose myself mentally and fight hard. Of course it’s a pity that we lost in the Mixed Doubles final last night but it’s over, and it’s the singles event, I have to try to let go of the defeat last night and focus myself into the singles competition”, reflected Wang Manyu.
Play concludes in Jakarta on Saturday 1st September.