The special one for Feng, Yu

Singapore's Feng Tianwei (far left) and Yu Mengyu on their way to winning gold in the Commonwealth Games women's doubles final yesterday. They beat India's Manika Batra and Mouma Das 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 to retain the title they won in Glasgow in 2014.
Singapore's Feng Tianwei (far left) and Yu Mengyu on their way to winning gold in the Commonwealth Games women's doubles final yesterday. They beat India's Manika Batra and Mouma Das 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 to retain the title they won in Glasgow in 2014.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

S'poreans exorcise demons of team event loss with victory in women's doubles final

Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu have won medals at the highest level in their illustrious careers, including an Olympic women's team silver and bronze, and a world team title.

But the Commonwealth Games women's doubles gold they won last night was special as well - for it went a little way towards redemption for Sunday's surrender to India of the women's team title Singapore had held since 2002.

Yesterday, they thrashed Manika Batra, the Indian who starred in that team final, and her partner Mouma Das 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 to retain the title they won in Glasgow and prolong Singapore's streak of winning this event since the sport was introduced at the Games in 2002.

"This (gold medal) is special because of our loss (1-3 to India) in the team event, and it was a good wake-up call for us," said Feng, 31.

Yu, 28, added: "The last few days had been hard on us, so today we prepared really well for the final.

"This could also be the last time we are pairing up in the Commonwealth Games, so it is extra special."

Feng admitted being "very, very nervous, as we would be before any final in a major competition, like the world championships".

But once they led 4-0 in the first game, their nerves were soothed.

Said Feng: "Being patient and winning that first game was crucial because it was a best-of-five tie."

The win was a massive fillip for Singapore, who had mixed results at the Oxenford Studios yesterday.

The Republic, who swept all but the mixed doubles in 2014 and were aiming for all seven golds this time, gave up another title yesterday - the men's doubles, which Gao Ning and Li Hu won in Glasgow.

The world No. 7 pair of Gao and his new partner Pang Xue Jie lost their quarter-final 2-3 to England's Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford.

Ethan Poh, 19, and Koen Pang, 15, went one round further - losing their semi-final 1-3 to top seeds Sharath Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran of India.

Koen said: "We did well in the first game (which we won) but they got to know our game better and played to our weaknesses."

Poh added: "Nerves didn't play a part, but perhaps we lacked the experience." The unranked teenagers will face India's world No. 167 pair of Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty for the bronze medal today.

Xue Jie was also in action in the mixed doubles with Zhou Yihan, an encounter which ended in a 0-3 loss to India's Gnanasekaran and Batra in the quarter-finals.

Gao, 35, qualified for the semi-finals of the men's singles and the mixed doubles. He partnered Yu to a 3-0 victory over England's Samuel Walker and Denise Payet before beating Canada's Wang Zhen 4-1.

World No. 4 Feng will get a chance to avenge her shock defeat by Batra in the team final when the pair meet in the singles semi-finals today. Yu meets Canada's Zhang Mo in the other tie.

While Feng and Yu acknowledged that the doubles gold was a boost for the team's remaining events today and, possibly, tomorrow, they were both cautious of being overconfident.

On facing Batra again, Feng said: "Every day is different. I have to focus and do my preparations well."

A more optimistic Yu added: "I am playing in the mixed doubles first, so I hope to win that first and then in the singles, hope both Tianwei and I win to make it an all-Singapore final."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2018, with the headline 'The special one for Feng, Yu'. Print Edition | Subscribe