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Other Sports - 02. May 2009.

European Hopes Fade as Asian Women Show their Class

By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Concentration on the face of Natalia Partyka as Xu Jie prepares to serve.   Photo By: Rémy Gros
Concentration on the face of Natalia Partyka as Xu Jie prepares to serve.  Photo By: Rémy Gros

     World Table Tennis Championships

A determined Ai Fukuhara and Sayaka Hirano, with some 4,000 supporters smacking their inflated clappers in full cry and then chanting phrases of encouragement, booked their quarter-final place at the H.I.S. World Championships in Yokohama following a fourth round victory over Germany’s Elke Schall and Wu Jiaduo.

The Japanese duo succeeded 11-9, 5-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-4. It was all smiles for Ai Fukuhara and Sayaka Hirano as they left the arena ready to await the mandatory interview with Japanese television, a far cry from the desolation they had endured two days earlier when making premature exits from the Women’s Singles event.

Furthermore, it was to some extent sweet revenge for Ai Fukuhara; her nemesis in the Women’s Singles event had been Elke Schall.

Hong Kong Pair too Strong
Defeat for Europe and there was more.

Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana proved too strong for the Hungarian partnership of Georgina Pota and Krisztina Toth with a straight games victory being recorded; the two Asian stars with two of the best backhands in female table tennis dominated from start to finish.

Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana won 11-9, 11-2, 11-7, 11-6.

No Respite
Similarly, there was no respite for the German duo of Zhenqi Barthel and Kristin Silbereisen against the top seeds, China’s Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia; the latter duo showed no mercy against the German duo who had excelled to reach the fourth round.

Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia succeeded 11-5, 11-8, 13-11, 11-7.

Poles Pose Problems
Success for Asia against Europe and it was the same in the contest that saw Singapore’s Feng Tianwei and Wang Yue Gu in opposition to Poland’s Natalia Partyka and Xu Jie. The latter duo made the more positive start, they clinched the opening game but then the Singaporeans assumed control as their consistency put the Poles under pressure and forced errors.

Feng Tianwei and Guo Yue prevailed 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8.

Pattern Continues
Success for Asia against Europe in all four matches in the top half of the Women’s Doubles draw and when the continental confrontation was realised in the lower half of the draw it was the very same verdict.

The Austrians, Li Qiangbing and Liu Jia found life tough against the Korean defenders Kim Kyung Ah and Park Mi Young; Liu Jia freely admits that the backspin player is not her favourite cup of tea but against that style of play I would venture to suggest that is improving.

Against the Koreas you either need Zhang Yining or Guo Yan’s never erring fast forehand to end the point quickly or the consistency of Guo Yue to maintain the pressure and force errors.

The Austrians elected for consistency and patience but when it comes to patience the Koreans will still be there defending stoutly when the lights have gone out and the rest of the world is the Opening Ceremony in Moscow, 12 months hence for the World Team Championships.

Patience and Prudence, alias Kim Kyung Ah and Park Mi Young won 12-10, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7.

End of Slovakian Hopes
Meanwhile, in the one remaining Europe versus Asia contest it was success for second seeds China’s Ding Ning and Guo Yan over Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova and Eva Odorova; they won 11-5, 12-10, 12-10, 11-2; whilst in the all Asia clashes it was China and Hong Kong who prevailed.

China’s Cao Zhen and Liu Shiwen beat Korea’s Dang Ye Seo and Lee Eun Hee 11-8, 11-9, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6 whilst Lin Ling and Zhang Rui proved too strong for Singapore’s Sun Bei Bei and Yu Meng Yu.

They won 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8.

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