Table-tennis: Feng misses out on finals, but takes third

She had only won once in three previous meetings with China's defensive specialist, Wu Yang.

Singapore's world No. 4 Feng Tianwei, the reigning Olympic women's singles bronze medallist, still cannot quite figure out Wu, after falling to the world No. 8 in the semifinals of the Women's World Cup in Kobe, Japan, on Monday.

Feng (right) has been known to struggle against defensive-minded players, with the now retired Kim Kyung Ah of South Korea a noted nemesis.

She struggled once again against Wu, going down 4-1 (11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 12-10) to Wu Yang. The 27-year-old managed to gather herself and bounced back hours later to whip Hong Kong's Jiang Huajun 4-0 (11-6, 13-11, 12-10, 11-2) to clinch third place.

It was the Singaporean's second third-placed finish after 2008, and came after a third consecutive semifinal appearance in the tournament.

Speaking to The New Paper from Japan, national women's head coach Jing Junhong said: "Wu Yang and Kim have different playing styles, although they are both choppers. I think Wu Yang is much better than Kim.

"I actually thought Tianwei played quite well on Tuesdaybut her opponent had quite a few lucky breaks." While the ascent of the Chinese player may be a worrisome prospect for Feng, there is still no guarantee the Chinese paddler will feature at the Incheon Asian Games next year.

The quadrennial Games will be Feng's biggest assignment after last year's Olympic Games in London, after the Singapore Table Tennis Association opted to rest its top player for December's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Naypyidaw.

Said Jing: "China will still have the likes of (world No. 1) Liu Shiwen, Ding Ning (2) and Li Xiaoxia (3) in their ranks, and each country can send only two players for the singles competition next year in Incheon, so Wu may not get a slot there. "She may or may not play in the team event... but looking at her performance against Tianwei on Tuesday, there may be some chinks in her armour that we can capitalise on in the future."

The former national paddler was also satisfied with the performances of Yu Mengyu, Singapore's other representative at the Women's World Cup.

She lost 4-0 to China's Liu - who eventually won the competition - in the quarter-finals on Sunday, after narrowly losing 4-3 to the world No. 1 in the group stages earlier. Yu, 24, was still recovering from a waist injury, suffered during the Harmony Open in Suzhou last month.

But Jing said Yu should recover fully in time to lead the Republic's young team at this year's SEA Games.

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