Upbeat Yu faces Feng's conqueror in semi-finals

Upbeat Yu faces Feng's conqueror in semi-finals

Already assured of her best finish at the tournament, Yu Mengyu will also have confidence and momentum on her side when she competes for a place in the final of the annual International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Grand Finals today.

The world No. 13 Singaporean beat Japan's Sayaka Hirano in the women's singles quarter-finals 11-5, 5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 yesterday, earning a place in the last four of the prestigious year-ender.

She will play South Korea's No. 12 Seo Hyo Won next.

The defensive specialist took out Singapore's Feng Tianwei in their quarter-final encounter, beating the top seed 13-11, 11-3, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8.

Feng has traditionally been troubled by defensive specialists such as Seo, but she had beaten the South Korean the last time they met at the World Team Table Tennis Championships in April.

According to Singapore Table Tennis Association high performance manager Eddy Tay, she had just returned to training after injuries to her knees and wrist, and that had to be taken into consideration.

"She came back to training not long ago and has not had a lot of time training with choppers since then," he told The Straits Times.

This is also the first singles competition that Feng is competing in where new balls, slightly bigger and made of a different material, are being used.

"You need time to get used to the new balls, and Tianwei has also not fully recovered," Tay added.

Yu, meanwhile, is playing with confidence, having already taken out Germany's third seed Han Ying, also a defensive player, in the round of 16.

Said Tay: "The win over Han Ying was a confidence booster for Mengyu. A lot of people didn't expect her to upset Han Ying, especially since Mengyu had a long-drawn waist injury recently too.

"She controlled the rhythm and had the upper hand throughout her match against Sayaka Hirano, so hopefully she will be able to produce the same level of performance in the semi-finals."

Feng and Yu also featured in the doubles semi-finals yesterday, but were beaten 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8 by Japan's Miu Hirano and Mima Ito.

This article was first published on Dec 14, 2014.
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