GLASGOW (AFP) - Singapore top seed Gao Ning came back from 3-2 down to make the Commonwealth Games table tennis men’s final with an exciting 11-8, 11-13, 14-12, 6-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6 win over England’s Liam Pitchford on Saturday.
The world number 12 avoided an upset after Pitchford, ranked 56 in the world, had played some inspired table tennis in a one hour and four minute contest.
Pitchford could not quite counter the Singaporean’s dominance but earned many plaudits with the crowd on the edge of their seats in arguably the closest singles match of the entire 10-day event.
“It was a tough match,” said Gao. “Pitchford was the younger and stronger player, so I went for longer rallies. It was a matter of fighting to the end and seeing who made the most mistakes.”
“Pitchford’s a young player who has improved a lot during the last two years but he made more mistakes than I did, that’s why I won.”
“It was a great match, I’m really disappointed I didn’t get through, because I had some chances, and I had him under pressure,” said Pitchford.
“I’ve been playing really well, I didn’t have anything to lose.”
Gao will now compete for the gold medal on Saturday evening against second seed countryman Zhan Jian who had a more straightforward 11-6, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 victory over Sharath Kamal of India.
“I was well prepared for this match,” said Gao.
“Kamal’s a veteran player, and an excellent one, so I was familiar with his game. Actually my playing style is a little unusual, I don’t think he quite adjusted to it, and the way I played the ball. Today I seized my chance.”
There was more success for Singapore as women’s singles gold and silver medallists Feng Tianwei Yu Mengyu assured they would pick up a second medal for Singapore as they comfortably overcame the threat of English pairing Joanna Drinkhall and Kelly Sibley to make the final of the women’s doubles.
The top seeds won 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 and will next play Australians Lay Jian Fang and Miao Miao after they beat Anqi Luo and Mo Zhang of Canada in equally convincing fashion 11-8, 11-7, 11-7.
For 41-year-old Lay it represents quite an achievement and she will look to go one better after winning three silvers and two bronze medals at the 2002 and 2006 Games.
“It’s a great moment,” she said. “We’re in the final. It’s such a big achievement. We will fight in the finals.”