Singapore has assured itself of at least a bronze medal at the Volkswagen Women’s World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, after national paddlers Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu reached the semi-finals of the tournament tonight.
A day after Li Jiawei’s shocking group stage exit from the competititon, after she lost two of her three group matches, either Feng or Wang is slated to equal Li’s bronze medal finish at the 2006 World Cup, Singapore’s best result at the tournament to date.
Feng caused one of the biggest upsets of the tournament this evening when she sent world no 2 and Olympic bronze medallist Guo Yue crashing out of the quarter-finals.
World No 9 Feng had booked her berth in the last eight of the competition by beating Holland’s Li Jiao 4-1 (13-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5) in the afternoon to finish second in her group. But it looked like she drew the short straw for her efforts when she was drawn to face Guo in the quarter-finals.
After all, top seed Guo had emerged as the hot favourite to win the World Cup after the withdrawal of compatriots Zhang Yining (world No 1) and Wang Nan (world No 5). Wang defeated Zhang in last years final. She had also looked the part after breezing through her three group matches without defeat.
However, it was the 21-year-old Feng who raced to a 2-0 lead when she took the first two sets 11-9 and 11-6. Guo reduced the deficit when she won the third set 11-7. But Feng came storming back from the momentary setback to win 11-6 and 11-9 for the eventual 4-1 triumph.
Feng will now meet Hong Kong’s Tie Yana in the semi-finals. World No 10 Tie reached the last four when she pipped South Korean chopper Kim Kyung Ah 4-3 (11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 17-19, 11-7) in a thrilling quarter-final clash.
Meanwhile, world no 7 Wang Yuegu overcame a tenacious Gao Jun 4-2 in her quarter-final match to book a semi-final clash against China’s Li Xiaoxia who beat Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun 4-1 (11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 11-6).
Like Guo Yue, Wang had qualified from the group stage with a clean 3-0 win record. She chalked up her third win this afternoon with a 4-1 demolition of Malaysia’s Beh Lee Wei (11-6, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-6).
But the 39-year-old Gao Jun, a former Chinese national player in the 1990s who is now representing the US, turned out to be a trckier opponent in the quarter-finals.
After Wang took the first set 11-5, she came back to level the score to 1-1 with a 11-8 win in the next set. Wang made it 2-1 with a 11-3 win in the third set but Gao made it all square again with a 13-11 win in the fourth set.
But Wang eventualy triumphed. After a hard-fought 15-13 win in the fifth set, she rode on that momentum to take the deciding set 11-7 for a 4-2 win.
By the way, Li Jiawei managed to avoid the embarrassment of finishing bottom of her group this afternoon. She defeated Hungary’s Georgina Pota 4-2 (11-13, 4-11, 14-12, 11-4, 13-11, 11-9) in her last group match to finish third n Group C.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan