SINGAPORE - Three-time Olympic medallist Feng Tianwei admitted her relief at returning to winning ways on Thursday (Nov 26) after two consecutive opening defeats in two weeks.
The world No. 9 put up a strong performance to comfortably beat American world No. 27 Lily Zhang 3-0 (11-5, 11-4, 11-6) and advance to the quarter-finals at the promotional World Table Tennis (WTT) Macau showcase.
Feng told The Straits Times: "It's true that today's match gave me some confidence. After all, my last two events were a blow to me.
"It's been a tough last month but I still managed to overcome the biggest hurdle through hard work and that marks a new beginning for my Olympic preparations. Another bad result would have meant being stuck in the rut longer."
Her victory comes after defeats by Zhang at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Women's World Cup in Weihai on Nov 9 and German world No. 20 Petrissa Solja at the ITTF Finals last week.
Feng, 34, has a silver and two bronze Olympic medals and is seeking to add to her collection at next year's Tokyo Games, which will be her fourth appearance at the Olympics.
Coach He Keyi, 35, was pleased with Feng's performance and said the win will give her a platform to build on.
"Her overall performance today was up to standard. After her loss in the World Cup, we made some tactical changes to better target her opponent's weakness.
"She executed that well so the match was rather smooth today. We also adjusted her mentality to help her get back into the rhythm of competing.
"In future games, we will go with the flow, make changes and learn along the way."
Held at the Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion, WTT Macau started on Wednesday and will end on Sunday.
The tournament features 32 global stars including reigning Olympic men's and women's champions Ma Long and Ding Ning, and top seed Chen Meng, who won the Women's World Cup and ITTF Finals earlier this month.
It has a prize purse of US$800,000 (S$1,073,480) that includes a US$15,000 appearance fee for each paddler.
In the quarter-finals on Friday, Feng will meet one of the four top seeds from China: Chen, Sun Yingsha, Wang Manyu or Ding.
"For tomorrow's match, I'm preparing for it with a learning attitude and hope I'll be able to do my best," said Feng, who adjusted her mentality to take a 2-1 lead in her head-to-head meetings with Zhang.
"I'm not thinking about winning or losing, the most important thing to me now is still to get my match condition to its best. This will help me identify and solve problems more easily during a game."
After WTT Macau 2020, Feng will head to Japan, where she will represent Osaka-based Japan Paint Maretz in the T.League.