Yang, Yu secure mixed bronze

Singapore's Yu Mengyu (left) and Yang Zi (right)
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Yang Zi and Yu Mengyu continued their giant-killing run at the Asian Table Tennis Championships yesterday, taking out sixth seeds Jiang Tianyi and Lee Ho Ching of Hong Kong 12-14, 11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10 to advance to the last four of the tournament in Pattaya, Thailand.

On Tuesday, the unseeded Singaporean mixed doubles pair had produced one of the biggest shocks of the event when they knocked out second seeds Fang Bo and Mu Zi of China in the round of 16.

Yang and Yu will face another unseeded pair, North Koreans Choe Il and Ri Mi Gyong, today.

Having secured a place in the semi-finals, Singapore are now guaranteed at least a bronze medal, as there are no third-place play-offs at the biennial championships.

Regardless of what the eventual colour of the medal is, it will be the Republic's first podium finish in the mixed doubles since Gao Ning and Li Jiawei won a silver in the 2012 edition in Macau.

National women's head coach Jing Junhong said in a phone interview: "To be able to come this far, to be fighting to get into the top two (in the mixed doubles) is unexpected."

Men's head coach Yang Chuanning added: "When we defeated China, that was a big surprise for us.

"The Chinese are the strongest opponents we will face, and after that, the rest of our opponents will be more manageable."

Winning two games apiece and trailing 7-9 in the final game and just two points away from defeat, Yang and Yu roared back to bring up a match point at 10-9, before finally closing out the win 12-10.

Jing said: "I felt we played better on the decisive points. We played with confidence and showed a lot of mental strength, especially towards the end - the last few points.

"We had more energy than our opponents at the end, which brought us through."

The coach also reiterated that the partnership of Yang and Yu, who won the gold medal at June's SEA Games, has strengthened.

She added: "On the ground, during the match, Mengyu and Yang Zi show great chemistry, encouraging each other."

Although unseeded, North Korea's Choe and Ri know how to score upsets. They edged out fourth seeds Masataka Morizono and Mima Ito of Japan 3-2 (12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10) in the quarter-finals.

"I saw them play and they look strong and powerful," said Jing.

But Yu suffered a slight setback in the women's doubles, as partner and world No.7 Feng Tianwei had to pull out owing to a back injury she had suffered last Saturday in her women's team tie against South Korea. "She has been receiving treatment for the past few days, and we did not want the injury to worsen further," Jing explained.

But later in the evening, Feng was untroubled in the women's singles' round of 64, beating Malaysia's Lee Rou You 4-0 (11-1, 12-10, 11-5, 11-8).

After a break of just over an hour, she returned to thrash Japan's Saki Tashiro 4-0 (11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6) to advance to the round of 16.


Asian Table Tennis Championships: Day 6

Session 1: StarHub Ch203, 1pm

Session 2: StarHub Ch202, 8.30pm

This article was first published on Oct 1, 2015.
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