RIO DE JANEIRO - For the first time in three Olympics, Singapore's women's table tennis team will return home empty-handed, after falling to familiar foes Japan in the bronze medal play-off on Tuesday morning (Brazil time).
The Republic, seeded fourth at the Games, were beaten 3-1 in the Riocentro Pavilion 3, with Yu Mengyu responsible for the lone point earned against the second seeds.
World No. 13 Yu got things off to a promising start when she upset world No. 8 Ai Fukuhara 4-11, 11-5, 11-3, 4-11, 11-5 in the first singles of the best-of-five tie.
Team captain Feng Tianwei, however, again struggled against a Japan player. She was whitewashed 10-12, 6-11, 7-11 in her singles tie against Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa. The Singaporean world No. 4 had also suffered a 4-0 thrashing by Fukuhara in the quarter-finals of the singles competition.
Yu teamed up with Zhou Yihan in the doubles match, but they were also beaten 9-11, 11-9, 11-1, 14-12 by Fukuhara and Mima Ito.
Feng, given the responsibility of salvaging the tie, was also unsuccessful against Japan's 15-year-old Ito, losing 9-11, 4-11, 6-11.
With Feng and Yu unsuccessful in the singles competition, this means the paddlers have failed to retain either of the two bronzes won at the 2012 London Games.
Singapore may boast Feng, the world No. 4 and highest non-Chinese player ranked in the world, but the Japanese team have had the edge in terms of overall strength for years.
The Republic was also whitewashed 3-0 by Japan at the 2012 London Olympics in the semi-finals. That Japan team also included Fukuhara and Ishikawa.