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Table Tennis News and Reviews » Blog Archive » Singapore Sensation, Champions of the World, Dramatic Scenes in Moscow

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  • 01Jun

    Beaten by China in the final of the women’s event at the Evergrande Real Estate World Team Championships in Guangzhou in 2008 and in the same year in the final at the Beijing Olympic Games; Singapore caused one of the greatest upsets in the history of table tennis, when on Sunday 30th May 2010 in the Olimpijsky Sports Complex, they beat China by three matches to two.

    Amid dramatic scenes Feng Tianwei sank to knees after securing the crucial point to beat Liu Shiwen and secure Singaporeb their first ever title at a World Championships.

    It was sheer sensation, for those who had the privilege to be resent, they will relate the tale of the day to children, grandchildren with enthusiasm and indelible memories.
    Feng Tianwei was the heroine, in five games she beat both Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen with Wang Yue Gu also defeating Liu Shiwen; the one Chinese success came from Guo Yan.

    In the third match of the duel, she defeated Sun Bei Bei.

    No Change
    Both coaches selected the teams that had succeeded in both the quarter-final and semi-final stages; there was no place in the Singapore line up for the experienced Li Jia Wei nor the much improved Yu Meng Yu who has risen from no.32 on the ITTF Women’s World Rankings at the start of the year, to a current position of no.10.

    Equally China omitted both Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia; the non selection of Li Xiaoxia was to be expected, early in the year she underwent an appendix operation; however, the omission of Guo Yue did raise eyebrows.

    Wealth of Experience
    Although only 21 years old she has a wealth of experience, the winner of the Women’s Singles title at the Liebherr World Championships in Zagreb in 2007 and the runner up in 2009; she was surely expected to play.

    Coach Shi Zhihao gave youth its opportunity just as his predecessor, Liu Yuansheng, had done six years earlier when at the age of 15, Guo Yue beat Zhang Rui to secure gold for China at the Liebherr World Team Championships in Doha.

    Play Harder
    “Jiao You, Jiao You” rang out loudly in the tiered seating as Ding Ning captured the first game against Feng Tianwei; her services caused her adversary, currently the world no.2, problems and most certainly the 2005 World Junior champion was motivated.

    Left handed, a clenched right fist greeted every success as her speed started to overwhelm Feng Tianwei; after winning the first game, she won the first six points of the second game before Feng Tianwei replied.

    She surrendered only two more points, the Chinese supporters were delirious; Feng Tianwei was being reduced to the role of being a ball girl. Ding Ning was giving her no time to execute her powerful strokes.

    Wise Time Out
    In the second game, obeying the orders of her supporters to play harder, play stronger, Ding Ning established a 4-2 lead, the Singapore camp called “Time Out”; the Chinese supporters cheered and applauded in unison, one member of the faithful deciding it was time the crack a cymbal in my right ear just in case Ding Ning could not hear the cries of her supporters.

    However the efforts of China’s Ringo Starr did not produce an immediate success; a rejuvenated Feng Tianwei captured the game with Ding Ning not in the fast lane as in the previous two, more tentative as she saw the finishing line.

    Took Stock
    It was time for Ding Ning to take stock and follow orders, she did just that; Shi Zhihao had clearly given instructions that the first stroke in the rally should be directed towards the backhand of Feng Tianwei.

    The orders were followed to the letter, she moved ahead 8-3 with Feng Tianwei having few problems returning the Ding Ning service but experiencing problems with being unable to unleash her powerful forehand.
    At 8-5, Shi Zhihao called “Time Out”, the cries of “Jiao You, Jiao You” drowned out the music.

    Ding Ning appeared nervous as Feng Tianwei levelled at 9-all; At 10-9 Feng Tianwei held game point, it was converted.

    Feng Tianwei was now the more positive player; she attacked the service which too often drifted long whilst Ding Ning returned service more often than not with heavy backspin directed into the body of Feng Tianwei.

    Ding Ning Ahead, Feng Tianwei Recovers

    A fifth game beckoned, there had been a major transformation in the match; at the change of ends Ding Ning led 5-2, the level of the rallies at a higher standard than before with Ding Ning on two occasions being driven into the deep grass and effecting high lobbed topspin returns to delight the crowd.

    Nevertheless, Ding Ning could not stamp her authority on proceedings as she had done in the first two games, Feng Tianwei, levelled at 5-all; long rallies followed, both in favour of Feng Tianwei.

    The next two points with Ding Ning serving were over quickly, both to Ding Ning; the next two points shared, tension filled the air.

    Recovery Completed
    “Jiao You, Jiao You” rang around the stadium; then match point to Feng Tianwei; Ding Ning served, the return was weak, too high. Ding Ning went for a fast forehand topspin, the ball clipped the top of the net, it flew long.

    Feng Tianwei, outclassed in the first two games had performed a quite remarkable recovery; Singapore had the early lead.

    The pressure was now firmly on the shoulders of Liu Shiwen, like Ding Ning 19 years old; for Wang Yue Gu, like Liu Shiwen born in Liaoning Province, it was a golden opportunity to etch her name in table tennis history books.

    Wang Yue Gu was in the fast lane, she moved into a 7-1 lead, carefree, fast, devastating from the backhand.

    However Liu Shiwen is brave, inside the China doll exterior their lies braveheart, she reduced the arrears to 7-8. However, she never gained parity.

    The first game went to Wang Yue Gu.

    Wang Yue Gu Positive
    Wang Yue Gu confident, positive established a 6-3 lead in the second game; she stayed close to the table, she made full use of the angles, she forced errors from the racket of the world no.1.

    The Chinese supporters gasped as Wang Yue Gu moved ahead 8-4; the level of play rose, a stupendous out-of-this-world rally saw Liu Shiwen win the next points, both ladies for their efforts deserved ten bonus points. It was table tennis magic.

    However, it was only one point, Wang Yue Gu captured the game, she was two games to nil ahead.

    Liu Shiwen Responds
    Wang Yue had commanded the first two games by excelling over the table and forcing errors from Liu Shiwen.

    In the third game the errors from the racket of Liu Shiwen disappeared, she dominated matters and allotted Wang Yue Guo only two points.

    The Chinese supporters led by Mr Tambourine Man were back in full voice.

    “Jiao You, Jiao You, Jiao You”.

    Rapid Fire
    Rapid fire exchanges greeted the start of the fourth game with Wang Yue Gu enjoying the better of the early exchanges.

    She went ahead 5-2; Liu Shiwen called “Time Out”, the Chinese supporters called “Jiao You”, a group of Singapore supporters chanted “Singapore” but it was a whisper when compared with their Chinese adversaries.

    Liu Shiwen levelled at 5-all, Singapore coach Zhou Shuseng called “Time Out”.

    The fast exchanges continued; neither player able to establish a definitive lead, at 10-all it was parity; then after yet another long rally it was match point to Wang Yue Gu; converted.

    Sensationally, Singapore led by two matches to nil!

    There was an air of amazement around the Olimpijsky Sports Complex; the Chinese supporters were stunned.

    When was a Chinese Women’s Team last in a situation when they were trailing by two matches to nil?

    Also First Appearance
    Guo Yan was next into the arena and although a member of the Chinese National Team at previous World Championships, it was, like Liu Shiwen and Ding Ning, her first appearance in a World Championships final.

    Statistically Guo Yan was the clear favourite, they had met twice before on the international scene and twice Guo Yan had won.

    However, full of confidence and wishing to emulate her colleagues, Sun Bei Bei captured the first game but Guo Yan replied immediately; her consistent topspin play enabled her to dominate the second game.

    Again, continuing to play with a high level of consistency, her aim to keep the ball on the table longer than her opponent, Guo Yan captured the third game.

    The Chinese supporters rose in unison.

    Safety First
    Guo Yan continued the safety first policy, she went ahead 4-2 in the fourth game, Zhou Shunsen called “Time Out”. The players returned, in trying to attack quickly, Sun Bei Bei made mistakes.

    Guo Yan went ahead 6-2; a gap had been created, Guo Yan continued to play methodically, no risks. The policy bore fruit.

    China had reduced the arrears to one game; it seemed to write “China had reduced the arrears”; had I ever written that before when referring to Chinese female players?

    Three previous meetings in world ranking events and three wins for Liu Shiwen; that was the historical evidence; the most recent in March 2010 when she beat Feng Tianwei in the Women’s Singles final at the Volkswagen Cup in Guangzhou.

    However, in Moscow Liu Shiwen was facing the most severe test of her career.

    Nervous tense moments, few long rallies saw Feng Tianwei capture the first game and silence the Chinese supporters.

    In the second game, Liu Shiwen took the early advantage but Feng Tianwei levelled at 4-all; Shi Zhihao called “Time Out”.

    Initially, the break worked for Liu Shiwen as the level of the rallies rose, she moved ahead 9-6.

    Liu Shiwen followed the tactic that Ding Ning had employed by regularly returning the service into the backhand of Feng Tianwei with backspin.

    Game Points Saved
    However, with chants of “Singapor, Singapore” reverberating around the stadium, Feng Tianwei levelled at 9-all.

    The next point went to Liu Shiwen but at 11-10 it was advantage Feng Tianwei, she had four further game points before at 16-14, Liu Shiwen clinched the game.

    China on the Precipice
    Executing consistent topspin strokes, Feng Tianwei raced into a 5-0 lead in the third game. Feng Tianwei maintained the advantage, she was playing positively, Liu Shiwen was being forced into the passive role.

    Zhou Shuseng stood to his feet with the score at 10-7 in favour of Singapore; Feng Tianwei, shook her head, clearly she did not want the “Time Out”. However, the umpire placed the clock on the table and the “Time Out” was taken.

    Furthermore, Feng Tianwei won the next point!

    China was on the precipice.

    Prime Importance
    Consistency was now of prime importance, Liu Shiwen was consistent but the heavy topspin strokes of Feng Tianwei had time and again reaped rewards.

    Liu Shiwen moved ahead 7-4, fast counter attacking rallies, she maintained the lead but Feng Tianwei recovered to level at 9-all.

    The next two points went to Liu Shiwen, the Chinese supporters rejoiced; “Jiao You, Jiao You” time and again.

    Crucial Game
    Attacking strongly, Feng Tianwei won the first three points of the fifth game before Liu Shiwen replied; at the change of ends the heavy topspin strokes of Feng Tianwei were paying dividends.

    She led 5-3, then extended the lead to 8-4; a sensation was being anticipated.

    The noise of “Jiao You” was deafening. Feng Tianwei moved ahead 9-4 at 10-6 she held four match points.

    Liu Shiwen saved the first match point, not the second.

    Sensation, sheer drama, unbelievable; Singapore, champions of the world.


    Posted by ttfan @ 3:49 pm

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