Dropped from the national team after the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) deemed her irrelevant to its plans, Feng Tianwei let victory do all the talking for her.
The 30-year-old defeated world No. 1 and reigning Olympic champion Ding Ning during a tie between their respective clubs in the China Table Tennis Super League (CTTSL) on Sunday, winning 12-10, 13-15, 2-11, 11-7, 7-5. (The rubber game is played to seven points.)
Feng, playing for Ordos 1980, banked on the club's home-ground advantage in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, and also earned a second point when she also swept aside Li Jiayuan, another Chinese player, with a 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 win.
It earned Feng's club a 3-1 victory over Ding's club Beijing Shougang, the defending champions of the highly competitive league.
With Ordos 1980 joint eighth in the 10-club tournament, the result will have little bearing on club standings and will also not earn her any world ranking points.
I've spent the last three weeks or so slowly getting back into the rhythm of competition. To be able to defeat Ding Ning is a huge boost for myself, and gives me greater confidence to carry on.
FENG TIANWEI, on being axed from the national team and preparing for the World Tour finale in Doha starting on Thursday.
We are happy for Feng Tianwei's win and we offer our congratulations.
TAN YEE, STTA acting CEO, on the paddler's performance in the China Table Tennis Super League.
But victory over a Chinese opponent - and the world's best player at that - especially at this juncture, is both a shot in the arm for Feng as much as it is a message for onlookers and naysayers.
The world No. 6, Singapore's most bemedalled Olympian with a silver and two bronzes, was shockingly axed from the national team in late October, with the STTA claiming that her age meant she "does not fit" into its current plans for rejuvenation.
The exclusion meant Feng would no longer be able to train using the STTA's resources, including benefiting from coaching and training with sparring partners. She would also have to fund her own way to competitions on the international circuit if she gets the STTA's endorsement to take part.
"This was a victory earned under very trying circumstances," she told The Straits Times yesterday from Beijing.
"I've spent the last three weeks or so slowly getting back into the rhythm of competition. To be able to defeat Ding Ning is a huge boost for myself, and gives me greater confidence to carry on."
The win over Ding was Feng's first in four ties she has played so far in the current CTTSL season.
Feng added: "I'm thankful to everyone who has been concerned and supporting me. I've got a big tournament coming up and hopefully everyone can continue to root for me."
While the CTTSL was Feng's first competition since she was excluded from the national set-up, her first tournament on the International Table Tennis Federation's professional circuit will be at the Dec 8-11 World Tour Grand Finals in Doha.
The event, the most lucrative event on tour with a US$500,000 (S$709,000) prize purse, is an invitation-only competition for the season's top 16 performers. Feng is the only Singaporean who qualified for the singles events.
When contacted for comment, STTA's acting chief executive officer Tan Yee said: "We are happy for Feng Tianwei's win and we offer our congratulations."