Table tennis: Singapore thrash India 3-0 at World Team C'ships to avenge C'wealth Games loss

Singapore's Yu Mengyu (pictured) outlasted India's Manika Batra 3-2 in the second match. Batra had beat Yu to win the women's singles gold at the Commonwealth Games earlier in April.
Singapore's Yu Mengyu (pictured) outlasted India's Manika Batra 3-2 in the second match. Batra had beat Yu to win the women's singles gold at the Commonwealth Games earlier in April.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Up till 12.30am, Yu Mengyu and Co were still poring through videos and discussing strategies for their World Team Table Tennis Championships tie against India later in the day in Halmstad, Sweden.

The Singapore women were determined to avoid a repeat of the 3-1 shock defeat by the Indians led by Manika Batra in the team final at the Commonwealth Games last month. Batra, 22, also beat Yu, 28, 4-0 in the singles final.

The extra homework paid off with a 3-0 Group A win at the Halmstad Arena yesterday.

Feng Tianwei led the way with a 3-0 victory over Madhurika Patkar, Yu scored a crucial 3-2 win over Batra before Lin Ye wrapped up the tie with a 3-0 win over Mouma Das.

With three wins on the trot, the Republic are through to the round of 16 even before they face defending champions China today and Belarus early tomorrow morning.

Singapore are level with China on six points in Group A, after wins over hosts Sweden (3-2) and Russia (3-0), and they will finish with a minimum of eight points as one point is awarded for a loss.

Russia, Sweden and Belarus may still end up on eight points, but Singapore are assured of at least third, based on head-to-head results.

The top three in each of the four groups progress to the knock-out rounds, with the four winners receiving byes to the quarter-finals.

Yu told The Straits Times in a phone interview: "The Commonwealth Games was a wake-up call... but I wasn't very nervous.

"We had prepared well the night before and I also did an hour of preparation before the match.

"I went in as the underdog, I was more 'open' mentally and changed my strategies at the correct time."

Women's national coach Hao Anlin added: "Our players were very motivated to do well after what happened at the Commonwealth Games. Mengyu won because her mental game was stronger, her strategy was better, and she was more resolute with her shots."

While the Singapore line-up in Sweden is slightly weaker than the one on the Gold Coast, the difference in formats could have led to the divergence in results.

The Commonwealth Games format comprised four singles and a doubles tie. Zhou Yihan/Yu lost 1-3 to Das/Patkar before Zhou's 0-3 loss to Batra sealed Singapore's fate.

The world event also involves a best-of-five format, but with five singles matches, and Singapore trio Feng (world No. 4), Yu (No. 50), Lin (No. 93) outrank Batra (No. 58), Das (No. 88) and Patkar (No. 112).

China-born Zhou, 24, was replaced by the unranked 16-year-old Pearlyn Koh because she is not eligible owing to International Table Tennis Federation rules on naturalised citizens representing their new nations.

Players under 15 when they change nationalities are not eligible for the World Championships, World Cup and World Team Cup for three years. It is five years for ages 15 to 17 and seven years for those 18 to 20, while paddlers 21 and above will not be eligible at all. The rules do not apply for major Games like the Olympics, Asian, Commonwealth and SEA Games.

Zhou, who got her citizenship at age 19 in 2013, will be eligible only in 2020, while Lin, who also became a Singaporean in 2013 but at age 17, made her World Team Championships debut in Sweden.

On the China tie today, coach Hao said: "It is definitely important to keep calm, and to try our best to play to our potential. We will take it one match at a time."

Singapore lost 2-3 to North Korea in the last eight at the 2016 edition.

The Republic's men's team lost 2-3 to Belgium in their Group C encounter yesterday, and played against Belarus early this morning.