TOKYO – Singapore will adopt a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality when it takes on mighty China in the women’s Olympic table tennis team quarter-finals on Tuesday (August 3rd).
The Republic swept France 3-0 in the round of 16 on Monday, but with a wide array of top talent – world number 4 Wang Manyu dropped from the reserve list to replace world number 7 Liu Shiwen – the defending champions , China will be providing the ultimate test.
Singapore’s Feng Tianwei said: “We really want to bring home a medal for Singapore but it’s not a good draw for us. We are not supposed to beat China, so we need to be relaxed and play without pressure or inhibitions. “
The world No.9 showed her ability to come out of adversity on Monday after meeting strong resistance in the opening singles of 17-year-old birthday girl Prithika Pavade, who is ranked 381 places lower but ran to a 2-0 lead.
With the best-of-five format, there is a smaller margin for error and Feng was on the ropes when she lost 6-3 in Game 4. But she dug deep to finally win 3-2 (8-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-3) at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
She said: “I knew it would be difficult because we analyzed her and found out that she is an aggressive southpaw and having never played against her before, I am not very familiar with her style of play.
“I didn’t think I would be down 2-0. Maybe the tactics were a bit off at first, but I was confident in my abilities, I managed to reset, fight and win.
Earlier in the first game, Singaporeans Yu Mengyu and Lin Ye beat Stephanie Loeuillette and Yuan Jianan 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 13-11) in the opening double with the impressive 60th World Lin in the of its Olympic debut 10 days after the opening ceremony.
The 25-year-old said: “Watching our other players play, I really wanted to get on the pitch as soon as possible. During those 10 days I focused on finding my form, and once I started, I was determined to aim for points and a win.
“It is a rare learning experience to play and fight against China that we look forward to.”
In the second single, women’s singles semi-finalist Yu beat 95th Yuan, 3-1 (11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8) in her eighth game at these Games.
The 31-year-old world No.47 said, “Lin Ye and I have been playing doubles for five years and although we haven’t played much together recently, the understanding is there and she’s played well today.
“In my singles, I felt a bit mentally tired. But I was prepared for a difficult game because I lost in our only previous meeting. As for tomorrow, let’s take advantage of these great Games.
Singapore coach Hao Anlin was pleased with his team’s performance, especially Feng’s resilience and the freedom Lin played with.
He added, “Everyone knows the Chinese standard. We’re going to prepare as best we can, fight hard, see if we can win a game and see where it takes us. “
The Republic captured a historic silver medal in the event at the 2008 Beijing Games, the country’s first Olympic medal since Tan Howe Liang’s silver in weightlifting in Rome in 1960. They followed with a four-year bronze medal. later in London but went blank at Rio 2016.