Singapore’s hopes of a top-three finish at this weekend’s 2008 Volkswagen Women’s World Cup (6-8 Sept) in Kuala Lumpur have been given a huge boost following the withdrawal of Olympic gold medallist and world No 1 Zhang Yining from the event.
The China Table Tennis Association informed the Table Tennis Association of Malaysia of Zhang’s withdrawal on Tuesday, said the NST.
Zhang, who has four Olympic golds, nine World Championships wins and four World Cup titles to her name, will be replaced by world No 11 Kim Kyung Ah of South Korea.
Zhang is the second big name to drop out of the World Cup.
Last month, defending champion and Beijing Olympics women’s singles silver medallist Wang Nan declined the invitation to take part in the competition.
The news of Zhang’s withdrawal should be sweet music to the Singapore Table Tennis Association who is entering Li Jiawei, Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu for the World Cup.
Li is ranked world No 6 while Wang and Feng is ranked seventh and ninth in the world respectively. The trio are now the highest ranked players in the World Cup draw behind China’s Guo Yue (world No 2) and Li Xiaoxia (world No 5).
Jiawei, in particular, will be heartened by the news as Zhang is her long-time nemesis.
The 27-year-old has never beaten Zhang in 13 encounters. The two most recent defeats occured during the Beijing Olympics. Li lost 1-3 to Zhang in the women’s team final and 1-4 in the women’s singles semi-final.
However, Li also lost to Guo Yue in the women’s singles bronze medal play-off and to Kim Kyung Ah in the women’s team semi-finals during the Beijing Olympics.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan