Feng Humbled Ahead of ITTF Grand Finals
Fans of Singaporean table tennis star Feng Tianwei are backing her to prove a point at the 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Astana, Kazakhstan. In October last year, the Singapore Table Tennis Association announced that they wouldn’t be renewing the now-31-year-old’s contract, as they planned to ‘rejuvenate’ the national team.
Supporters want to see the former world champion, winner of five Commonwealth Games golds and eight Southeast Asian Games golds, along with an Olympic silver and two bronzes, take one last title.
She’s seeded eighth in Astana, of only sixteen players qualified for the women’s singles, so she could indeed have one last hurrah in her, as she chases her share of the $1-million prize money that makes this table tennis’ richest tournament.
However, punters fancying a flutter on the world No. 11, and the only player in the women’s top eight who isn’t Chinese or Japanese, have been given pause, after Feng was surprisingly defeated in the final of the inaugural T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (the T2Apac) by Romanian world No. 57 Bernadette Szocs in Malaysia on Friday.
Romanian Triumphs in Time-Based Format
The T2Apac runs on a rather curious time-based format, rather than the first-to-seven or best-of-five format more familiar to table tennis enthusiasts. Instead, players have to take as many game wins as possible within a 24-minute limit. If a game ends after 22 minutes but within 24 minutes, the final game is played in a first-to-five format.
Feng, who took a straightforward 3-1 win over former world junior champion Shi Xunyao of China in the semi-final, in turn went down 3-2 to the Romanian in the final clash: 9-11, 11-10, 11-9, 4-11, 5-3.
Chen Meng Top Women’s Singles Seed
Given that this might be her swansong, Feng has everything to play for in Astana. But she faces some stiff competition from the seven players rated above her.
China’s Chen Meng and Wang Mayu are first and second seeds respectively, followed by Japan’s Ishikawa Kasumi and Ito Mima. The fifth, sixth and seventh seeds are also Chinese: Gu Yuting, Chen Xingtong and Zhu Yuling.
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