Ding Ning Staves Off Brave Challenge from Feng Tianwei to Reach Final
A determined performance saw China’s Ding Ning overcame Feng Tianwei of Singapore at the semi-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at the Evergrande Real Estate Asian Cup in Guangzhou on Saturday 27th March 2010 to ensure that the gold medal in the event was in the hands of the host nation.
Earlier compatriot and now doubles partner on the ITTF Pro Tour, Liu Shiwen had booked her place some 80 minutes earlier.
Ding Ning won 11-8, 10-12, 14-12, 11-7, 10-12, 5-11, 11-6
It was victory for Ding Ning staving off a brave Fang Tianwei fight back in a duel where perhaps had a secret advantage.
Sitting courtside advising Feng Tianwei was Zhou Shusen, now one of Singapore’s national coaches. However, previously he was the coach to the very successful Beijing team which comprised Zhang Yining, Guo Yan and a certain Ding Ning!
Zhou Shushen knew the strengths, weaknesses is such things exist and foibles of Ding Ning.
There again, Feng Tianwei was no stranger to Shi Zhihao, the Chinese Women’s Head Coach, advising Ding Ning.
Feng Tianwei hails from Heliongjang Province in northern China, the home of Kong Linghui.
Ding Ning made the better start in both the first and second games; early in the proceedings she established a gap, in the first game she never relinquished the advantage.
She went ahead 6-3, then 9-6 and succeeded by the 11-8 margin; however the second game was a different story.
The Chinese star accelerated into a 6-3 lead but never capitalised on the situation. Feng Tianwei, directing her first attack whenever possible wide to the Ding Ning forehand, levelled at 10-all and then for the first time in the entire match held a lead.
Taking your chances is a golden rule in sport, Feng Tianwei took her chance, seized the opportunity and it was parity.
In the vital area of service and receive of service Ding Ning had been the superior player but neither player could find a rhythm; the rallies were short and brief.
Furthermore, perhaps the importance of the occasion was bringing a higher number of relatively unforced errors than expected.
Again in the third game it was Ding Ning who seized the early advantage; again Feng Tianwei levelled at 10-all having trailed the whole game.
At 11-10, Ding Ning held game point, Feng Tianwei then won three points in a row to hold game point herself. Was she to perform highway robbery?
The answer was no, a trademark Ding Ning service was returned long, then a remarkable reaction block recovery gave Ding Ning game point.
Taking your chances is a golden rule in sport, Ding Ning took her chance, she was back in the lead.
Having faced the possibility of losing the third game, Ding Ning played more confidently in the fourth game but she never reached the levels that took her to the Women’s Singles titles at the Asian Games in the Indian city of Lucknow in November 2009.
Relying heavily on her service and first attack, she secured the game and was one game away from a place in the final.
Time Out Stop Flow
A good start had been the order of proceedings in the first four games for Ding Ning.
In the fifth game it was exactly the same scenario; Ding Ning moved ahead 5-2; Zhou Shushen called “Time Out”. It was a wise move; his words of wisdom immediately bore fruit.
Feng Tianwei won six of the next seven points to move ahead 8-6.
Hint of Panic
However, Feng Tianwei was never able to extend the lead, Ding Ning won the next three points but again the Singaporean recovered to level at 9-all by attacking the Ding Ning service.
A touch of nerves perhaps, a hint of panic, errant backhands and Feng Tianwei had stolen the game she looked destined to lose.
The arrears in the match were down to one game.
Undoubtedly the recovery had affected both players.
In the sixth game Feng Tianwei was confident, Ding Ning was dispirited. Feng Tianwei raced into an 8-1 lead. She duly won the game and a decider beckoned.
The early points in the sixth game were shared but from 2-all Ding Ning moved ahead to 5-2 thanks to Feng Tianwei; at 4-2 a backhand topspin from Ding Ning clipped the end of the table, a faint touch. The umpire awarded the point to Feng Tianwei 4-3.
Sportingly, Feng Tianwei pointed to the edge of the table, acknowledging the fact the ball had touched; the score counter was changed and the point awarded to Ding Ning.
The act of decency gave Ding Ning a three point lead, the lead was vital, it was a cushion; Feng Tianwei recovered to trail 8-5, Shi Zhihao called “Time Out”.
Tension was in the air, the next point went to Feng Tianwei but the advantage was with Ding Ning and she was serving.
She made the most of the advantage, won the next two points directly from her service on her first match point secured victory.