Table tennis: Singapore beat third-seeded Netherlands to top Group C

Feng Tianwei of Singapore plays against Li Jiao of Netherlands during their women's singles round match at the 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Shah Alam on March 2, 2016.
Feng Tianwei of Singapore plays against Li Jiao of Netherlands during their women's singles round match at the 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Shah Alam on March 2, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - The Singapore women's table tennis team's hopes of clinching a medal at the World Team Table Tennis Championships received a boost when they beat third seeds Netherlands 3-2 on Wednesday (Mar 2).

It was the Republic's final group game, and ensured they topped Group C ahead of the third seed Dutch team.

Group winners get a bye into the quarter-final, while the second- and third-placed teams go to the round of 16.

This means avoiding strong teams like China and Japan. Semi-finalists are assured of a medal as there is no third-place play-off.

In the deciding fifth singles, Yu Mengyu saw off veteran Li Jiao 9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 12-10 to round up a thrilling encounter.

World No. 8 Feng Tianwei, who has played eight matches already, lost the first singles to Li Jiao 10-12, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 7-11 while clearly troubled by a shoulder injury.

Yu Mengyu then beat Li Jie 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 in the second singles. Isabelle Li was next, but lost to Britt Eerland 9-11, 7-11, 7-11.

Feng, who was icing her shoulder during the break, stepped up in the fourth singles to defeat Li Jie 11-7, 11-3, 11-9.

This set up the deciding fifth singles between Yu and Li Jiao.

An emotional Feng, who broke down at the mixed zone, thanked Yu for her two wins.

She said: "Mengyu did really well today, she carried the team. I tried but the injury was too much."

Yu said: "I'm really inspired by Tianwei's fighting spirit and how she refused to give up despite the injury."

Li Jiao also hailed Feng's fighting spirit. "Her spirit is really commendable, I think we both hold each other in high regard."