Feng Tianwei and Singapore crash out in table tennis women's singles

SINGAPORE - Singapore's table tennis team will not meet their target of a clean sweep of all seven SEA Games gold medals after Feng Tianwei fell to a shock 1-3 loss to Thailand's Suthasini Sawettabut on Thursday morning.

World No. 4 Feng, a 2008 and 2012 Olympic medallist, had no answer to her 107th-ranked opponent and lost 11-9, 10-12, 7-11, 9-11.

The defeat, along with Isabelle Li's loss to Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Nga on Wednesday, meant that neither Singaporean representative managed to top their group in the pool matches. Only the top paddler from each of the four groups advance to the semi-finals.

Said Feng: "My performance was a little off today and I made too many mistakes which affected me a lot. My knee (injury) also affected me and I wasn't in a good form for today's competition.

"To be honest, I was a little surprised. But given my current poor form, I didn't get to play to my fullest potential so the loss was not all unexpected. My opponent played well overall."

It has been a disappointing Games for Feng, a women's doubles bronze medallist at April's World Championships. Partnering Yu Mengyu, she had to settle for a silver in the women's doubles on Tuesday.

National coach Jing Junhong said her top player had a poor day at the office.

"Tianwei was average and her opponent played very well," said the former national player. "She didn't grab her opportunity in the second set, especially. Also, her opponent had better luck in the crucial shots - she had more aces. So after she lost the second set, she felt a lot more pressure.

"The Thai girl has been improving a lot in the past two years. And as we have seen in her performance in the doubles, she has been playing very well. The loss is a pity."

Nga will take on Malaysia's Ng Sock Khim for a place in the women's singles final while Suthasini will hope to see off the challenge of Vietnam's Mai Hoang My Trang for a shot at the gold medal.

Singapore have so far won three table tennis golds, in the men and women's doubles and the mixed doubles.

hosr@sph.com.sg