Bronze for injured Feng

Feng Tianwei lost in the semi-finals but her performance in the tournament drew praise from coach Jing Junhong. Despite being hobbled by a back injury, she was the only non-Chinese in the final four.
Feng Tianwei lost in the semi-finals but her performance in the tournament drew praise from coach Jing Junhong. Despite being hobbled by a back injury, she was the only non-Chinese in the final four. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Bid to reach final foiled by Chen who had also beaten S'porean in q-finals in 2013 edition

There was no final breakthrough for Feng Tianwei at the Asian Table Tennis Championships yesterday.

For the second straight edition of the biennial tournament, the Singapore paddler succumbed to the same opponent in the women's singles - China's world No. 8 Chen Meng.

While Feng lost in the quarter-finals of the 2013 Busan championships, yesterday's 9-11, 7-11, 10-12, 3-11 defeat in Pattaya would have arguably hurt more as it came in the semi-finals.

That denied her a chance to become the first Singaporean to win either a silver or gold in the individual competition.

The world No. 7 had to settle for bronze as there is no play-off for third place.

She said after her loss: "Chen came well-prepared for this match.

"She knew my playing style, my next possible moves and how to tackle them.

"There were some crucial points that I didn't handle well; they gave her the advantage.

"Her play was flawless today and I couldn't find any opportunity to turn the tables."

Feng's bronze is Singapore's second individual medal since the Asian Championships started in 1952. Li Jiawei had bagged a bronze at the 2005 edition in Jeju island, South Korea.

Despite the loss, national women's head coach Jing Junhong defended Feng's performance, saying that the 29-year-old had been playing with a back injury suffered during the team competition earlier this week.

"She displayed composure and she did not give up despite being injured. She has given her best," noted Jing. "We could see that she was a bit slow in her movement and her responses during the match."

Despite not being in peak condition, Feng - seeded fifth in the tournament - was the only non-Chinese player to reach the last four.

She had upset China's defending champion and world No. 2 Liu Shiwen in the quarter-finals on Thursday night.

But she finally ran out of gas yesterday against an in-form Chen, the sixth seed.

The latter had also clinched the mixed doubles crown with Fang Zhendong, beating the Singapore duo of Yang Zi and Yu Mengyu, on Thursday.

Jing said Feng was not familiar with her Chinese opponent's playing style.

Yesterday's match was only the Singaporean's second encounter with Chen.

"The two players have not met for a few years so Tianwei was not used to Chen Meng's rhythm and play," the coach added.

"Still, it was a difficult competition and the bronze medal is a pleasant surprise."

With Feng's loss, the Singapore paddlers will return from Thailand with one bronze and one silver.

Her third-place finish also brought some relief to the women's squad. They had finished eighth in the team event after coming in joint-third with Japan in 2013.

Jing said: "In the women's team event, it was difficult for us because we were counting heavily on Feng - the others are youngsters.

"So we could not do much about that. In the end, at least we have made up for our loss."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline 'BRONZE FOR INJURED FENG'. Print Edition | Subscribe