Olympics: Singapore's Feng made to sweat by 53-year-old Luxembourger in opener

Feng Tianwei reacts after winning a point during the the Rio 2016 Olympic Games women's table tennis round 3 match, on Aug 8, 2016.
Feng Tianwei reacts after winning a point during the the Rio 2016 Olympic Games women's table tennis round 3 match, on Aug 8, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

RIO DE JANEIRO - On paper, Feng Tianwei's opening match at the Olympics should have been a stroll. The world's fourth-ranked woman table tennis player was instead given a scare as she took six games to get past Luxembourg's Ni Xialian, ranked 66th.

The Singaporean eventually prevailed, labouring to an 8-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 win to earn a place in the fourth round later on Monday night.

Feng told The Straits Times after the match: "I was a little tight as it was my first match, so I couldn't really find my rhythm.

"My opponent played really well and was very bold too, so it was quite a challenge for me.

"But I didn't get flustered when 0-2 down and just played it one point at a time, so in that, I think I handled it quite well."

Feng, the second seed in the singles, is a favourite for a medal and was given a bye to the third round.

Both had never met before on the professional circuit. But her opponent, likely one of the oldest Olympians at these Games at age 53, is no minnow either. Ni is a two-time world champion (team, mixed doubles) with the Chinese team in 1983, but moved to Luxembourg where she took up citizenship in the late 1980s.

Feng is competing in her third Olympics and has three medals, including a singles bronze from the 2012 London Games.