BIRMINGHAM – The Republic took a big step towards reclaiming the Commonwealth Games table tennis women’s team gold after sweeping Australia 3-0 in the semi-finals on Sunday (July 31).
They will face Malaysia, who edged Wales 3-2 in the other semi-final, in Monday’s final at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.
The shock exit of defending champions India, at the hands of Malaysia on Saturday, meant Australia were arguably the Republic’s biggest threat remaining.
But world No. 16 Feng Tianwei and her teammates rarely looked troubled despite facing opponents who were using pimpled bats that create more spin variety as they sealed the country’s six straight appearance in the final for this event.
She said: “I’m very happy to have made it to my fourth consecutive women’s team final. There was regret of not being able to win gold in 2018, and we will do our best to set the record straight this time around.”
Zeng Jian, 25, and Zhou Jingyi, 17, gave four-time champions Singapore the perfect start as they beat Lay Jian Fang, 49, and 35-year-old Jee Min-hyung 3-1 (11-3, 13-11, 10-12, 11-4) in the first match.
Feng, at her fourth Games, used all her experience to overcome 72nd-ranked Liu Yangzi 3-1 (14-12, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5). It was then left to Zeng to seal the victory as she beat Lay 3-0 (11-5, 12-10, 11-8).
Zeng said: “In the doubles, I feel the chemistry and understanding between Jingyi and I are getting better. For a partnership that started only from the SEA Games in May, we want to stay humble and continue learning and battling against strong pairs.
“In the singles, I was up against an experienced player who has many ways to fight back, so the key for me was to stay calm.”
Earlier, Clarence Chew and Koen Pang battled back from big deficits and saved match points before leading Singapore to a 3-0 win over Canada in the men’s team quarter-finals.
They face England, who beat Cyprus 3-0, in Monday’s semi-finals. The other last-four clash is between defending champions India and 2018 finalists Nigeria.
Despite playing together only this year, the unranked Singaporeans Pang and Izaac Quek beat Jeremy Hazin and Edward Ly 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-4).