Feng must battle fatigue to help S'pore's cause
S'pore No. 1 has been doing it all and it's taking a toll
REPORTING FROM SHAH ALAM
She has chalked up 531 points in 29 games, playing a maximum eight matches for Singapore at the World Team Table Tennis Championships.
And world No. 8 Feng Tianwei has also delivered, winning all her matches over the last three days here at the Malawati Stadium to ensure the Republic are unbeaten in Group C.
But the 29-year-old is also fast tiring because of the hectic schedule and it could prove critical with the final group clash against the Dutch today.
Following Singapore's 3-1 win over Poland yesterday, women's national coach Chen Zhibin said: "Some of her shots went haywire today, so we have to see how well she recovers for tomorrow's tie.
"The match against Holland will be a tough fight... we don't have a chance of winning our third singles, and we would have to see how Tianwei and Yu Mengyu perform."
Asked about her fatigue, Feng winced a little and pointed to her shoulder and said: "My shoulder muscle is slightly injured against the chopper, but I hope to get it sorted out quickly because I will have another match against a Dutch chopper (Li Jie) tomorrow."
Feng and Co. are unbeaten so far in group battles.
Against the Poles yesterday, Feng beat Li Qian 3-1 (15-13, 6-11, 11-5, 17-15) in the first singles before Yu, 26, doubled the Republic's lead, also with a 3-1 (11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7) win, over Katarzyna Grzybowska.
Youngster Zhang Wanling, who put in a creditable shift against Ukraine on Sunday, could not repeat her performance and lost 3-0 (11-4, 11-5, 11-5) to Klaudia Kusinska in the third singles.
But Feng returned to the table to secure a 3-1 victory for Singapore after her 3-0 (12-10, 11-8, 11-2) triumph over Grzybowska in the fourth match.
Holland are now second in the group, having lost 3-2 to France yesterday, but the Dutch will still top the standings today if they beat Singapore, as head-to-head results will be used first as a tie-breaker.
Chen said: "Tomorrow would be our biggest challenge and our most important tie so far because topping the group would mean that we will advance to the top eight and face a comparatively weaker team who have advanced from the Round of 16.
"We would have to go through the last-16 route if Holland beat us and we finish second."
Chen, who coached the Dutch women's team from 2009 and 2012, has invaluable insight and it may well prove decisive.
He has urged his charges to digest the battleplan and come up with counter-plays instead of simply dictating to them.
He said: "We have been put through the fire; there have been several tense moments, but we've fought back since then, and that has increased our confidence, although we cannot be complacent against Holland."
Feng added: "I wouldn't say that we will be the underdogs against Holland tomorrow, we are almost on par (in terms of form). But the Dutch are very experienced and we must go into the tie with a fighting mentality."
Meanwhile, the men's team are still without a win in Group C after their 3-0 loss to Belarus last night.
Yang Zi and Clarence Chew both lost to lower-ranked opponents, while Pang Xue Jie pushed his opponent Pavel Platonov to the rubber game before losing 11-8, 5-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9.
The men's team are now out of the reckoning for a top-12 finish, and will finish their group-stage campaign today against Ukraine.
My shoulder muscle is slightly injured against the chopper, but I hope to get it sorted out quickly because I will have another match against a Dutch chopper (Li Jie).
— SIngapore’s Feng Tianwei