A first appearance for China’s Wang Manyu, for the 19 year old it was a most successful Asian Games debut.
Gold in the Women’s Team event was followed by Mixed Doubles silver in partnership with colleague Lin Gaoyuan, before on the concluding day of play in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Women’s Singles title was secured.
The no.2 seed, at the final hurdle she recovered from a three games to one deficit to beat compatriot, Chen Meng, the top seed (11-7, 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7) and in so doing repeated the successes of earlier this year on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour. In both Hungary and Qatar when they had met, Wang Manyu had prevailed.
Understandably it was delighted teenager.
“I’m happy to win the title; it’s certainly a confidence boost for me. At three-one down, I still keep my calm and never gave up, in my mind; as long as a match is not over I have my chance to come back. It was not an easy journey for me and I would never have achieved what I have achieved today without my parents. They have done a lot for me. I think this is a good way to repay them. I hurt my back in the semi-final, so it’s important for me to recover from that and get ready for the Chinese National Championships coming up, so I won’t be celebrating this victory much”, said Wang Manyu.
Earlier at the semi-final stage Wang Manyu had accounted for surprise semi-finalist, Yu Mengyu, the no.14 seed, in five games (11-7, 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7); a player she had never previously encountered in a world ranking tournament.
“The first three games were relatively easy but in the fourth game, I was over confident, trying to win each point fast. After that game, my coach told me to be more patient and be firm in implementing the strategies on court.” Wang Manyu.
Meanwhile, at the same stage, Chen Meng who had been member of the Chinese team four years ago but had not competed in the Women’s Singles event, had booked her place in the final courtesy of success in opposition to Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee, the no.9 seed (11-7, 11-7, 11-6, 11-4), a player she had beaten on their only two previous international meetings.
She won when they met on the ITTF World Tour in China in 2013 and at the Grand Finals in 2015 in Lisbon.
Alas for Chen Meng, the top step of the podium was a step too high but she was realistic and not too downhearted, even though incurring the wrath of the umpire for allegedly time wasting in the sixth game.
“I think I played well overall but Manyu played better towards the end of the match. After leading three-one, I started to play safe and certainly the penalty in the sixth game affected me; when the level of play is so close, each point makes a big difference. Of course it’s a pity to lose in the final but I still learned a lot from the Asian Games.” Chen Meng.
It is the 11th time that China has fielded the player who secured the Asian Games Women’s Singles title; Wang Manyu is the 10th winner. The only player to win on two occasions is Zhang Li. She succeeded in 1974 in Tehran and in 1978 in Bangkok.
Furthermore, the win recorded by Wang Manyu marks the progress she has made in the past four years; in 2014 when the Games were held in Incheon she was a promising junior player.
In 2013 at the World Junior Championships in Rabat she had been a Girls’ Singles bronze medallist; the following year in Shanghai she won the title; now she has a major title to her name: the Women’s Singles gold medallist at the Asian Games.