SINGAPORE - The women's national team exited the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Team World Cup in London on Friday (Feb 23) after their 3-1 loss to world No. 2 side Japan in the quarter-finals.
Ranked eighth in the world and seeded sixth for this tournament, Singapore had a mix of veterans, in Feng Tianwei (world No. 3) and Yu Mengyu (No. 51), and youngsters Zhang Wanling (No. 263) and Yee Herng Hwee (No. 363).
In contrast, Japan fielded a strong side early on Saturday morning (Singapore time) that consisted of Kasumi Ishikawa (world No. 4), Mima Ito (No. 6), Miu Hirano (No. 7) and Hina Hayata (No. 14).
Japan took the lead when the unranked Yu/Yee pair fell 3-0 (2-11, 7-11, 8-11) to Japan's world No. 2 tandem of Ito and Hayata.
Singapore then fell further behind when Feng lost 3-0 (10-12, 8-11, 11-13) to Ishikawa, who has six wins to Feng's seven victories with this result, according to ITTF statistics.
Yu reduced the deficit when she beat Hayata 3-1 (11-8, 11-5, 8-11, 12-10), but Japan secured the winning point when Ishikawa beat Yee 3-0 (2-11, 2-11, 4-11) to earn a semi-final clash against North Korea later in the day.
A new playing format, which may be adopted at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is used at this tournament in Copper Box Arena - the doubles match is played first, followed by four singles matches.
The previous format dictated that two singles matches are followed by the sole doubles match, and then a further two singles matches if needed in the best-of-five tie.
A player may play only two matches in total in both formats.
During the group stages, Singapore women's coach Hao Anlin fielded Feng and Yu, ranked 13th in the world as a pair, in the doubles, before fielding either Yee or Zhang in the first singles, while Feng and Yu featured in the other two singles matches.
Against Japan, Feng would have played the fourth singles match had Singapore levelled the tie at 2-2.
It is the first time since 2007 that the Republic has not won a medal at this biennial tournament.
Singapore clinched a silver in 2009 and 2010, and the joint bronze in 2011, 2013 and 2015. There are no play-offs for third place in this competition.