Recent good form a boost ahead of Commonwealth, Asian Games SINGAPORE paddler Feng Tianwei has hit a purple patch of form a month before the cauldron is lit at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and with less than three months before the Asian Games in Incheon.

The world No. 4 claimed her third title in four finals this year yesterday, beating home favourite Kasumi Ishikawa at the International Table Tennis Federation Japan Open. This is Feng's second time lifting the Super Series-level Japan Open crown after winning it in 2011.

Despite her ninth-ranked rival putting up a fierce challenge, Feng held on for a 12-10, 9-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-5, 13-11 win to improve on her 8-2 head-to-head record against the Japanese.

National women's coach Jing Junhong said what had been most pleasing about Feng's performance in recent months was her ability to live up to the expectations placed on her.

She told The Straits Times in a phone interview from Yokohama: "She's shown that she can withstand the immense pressure on her when she's up against lower-ranked opponents."

Feng clinched the lower-tier Australia and Philippines Open titles, before coming up short against German world No. 14 Han Ying at the final barrier at the Korea Open last week.

With the Commonwealth Games kicking off in a month and the world's best paddlers expected to contest the Asiad in September, Jing said Feng's recent form is encouraging.

"Tianwei has been playing very steadily and it will be a big boost for her ahead of this year's major Games," she said, adding that Feng showed her mettle to recover in the crucial sixth game yesterday after letting her 6-1 lead slip.

"She tends to start playing more conservatively when the finish line is in sight and an experienced opponent like Ishikawa is always willing to gamble.

"Thankfully, Tianwei recovered in time to close it out."

Team-mate Yu Mengyu performed well but could not make it an all-Singaporean final after losing 9-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11 to Ishikawa in the semi-finals.

She and Feng finished second in the women's doubles, losing 8-11, 6-11, 7-11, 11-13 to Ai Fukuhara and Misako Wakamiya.

Their results cap a fine weekend for Singapore's paddlers, with the juniors posting good results at the South-east Asia Junior Championships in Brunei.

The Republic finished with four golds, three silvers and seven bronzes.

Lin Ye, Yee Herng Hwee, Ang Wanqi and Tay Hui Li clinched the Under-18 girls' team title while Ethan Poh and Lucas Tan lifted the U-18 boys' team trophy.

Lucas also won the boys' U-15 singles title while Lin Ye took the girls' singles U-18 crown. maychen@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on June 23, 2014.
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