Table tennis: Feng Tianwei's World Cup bronze a boost as Tokyo 2020 Olympics looms

Singapore’s Feng Tianwei’s revival continued at the Women’s World Cup in Chengdu where she beat Japan’s world No. 8 Kasumi Ishikawa in the last eight before losing to third-ranked Zhu Yuling of China in the semi-finals.
Singapore’s Feng Tianwei’s revival continued at the Women’s World Cup in Chengdu where she beat Japan’s world No. 8 Kasumi Ishikawa in the last eight before losing to third-ranked Zhu Yuling of China in the semi-finals.PHOTO: XINHUA

Singapore's top paddler Feng Tianwei's resurgence continued with a third-placed finish at the Women's World Cup in Chengdu, China.

The 33-year-old yesterday beat American qualifier Lily Zhang 11-6, 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 15-13 in the bronze play-off to equal her best finish in 2008, 2013 and 2016.

Against the world No. 12 who has three Olympic medals, 49th ranked Zhang had no answer to Feng's ferocious forehands as she raced to a 3-0 lead.

But the 23-year-old American took the fourth game and was up 10-8 in the fifth before the Singaporean staged her own fightback to seal the win on her third match point after almost 50 minutes and picking up a cheque for US$20,000 ($27,300).

Feng said: "I'm very satisfied with my performance because I played well and was able to display the level I am at. This is my fourth bronze medal, so if there is one thing to be disappointed about, it is just that I would have loved a medal of another colour.

"We have made some tweaks to my game and I feel my form is getting better as we prepare earnestly for the Olympics."

In last night's all-Chinese final, world No. 3 Zhu Yuling was stunned 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6, 3-11, 11-9 by fifth ranked Liu Shiwen, who captured her fifth World Cup.

Feng has been in fine form of late, having also beaten China's world No. 1 Chen Meng at the German Open earlier this month.

In Chengdu, she swept Romania's world No. 17 Bernadette Szocs 4-0 and beat Japan's world No. 8 Kasumi Ishikawa 4-3 to reach the semi-finals, where she led Zhu 2-1 before losing 4-2.

Her coach He Keyi said Feng had been struggling with a wrist injury since April before her timely return as they plot a path to next year's Tokyo Olympics.

He told The Straits Times: "She stopped training for almost two months just to let the pain subside. Even at July's T2 Diamond Malaysia (where she beat Japan's world No. 9 Miu Hirano), she was still playing with the injury.

"When we could resume training, we worked on her technique. With more advanced technique, Tianwei has more ability to compete against the world's best players.

"And as she started playing better and winning matches, her confidence increased and we are now seeing her reach the latter stages of the competitions she is playing."

Feng's next tournament will be next month's Austrian Open.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'Feng's World Cup bronze a boost as Tokyo 2020 looms'. Print Edition | Subscribe