(by Steve Hopkins)
After 8 months of waiting, the ITTF Tour is back. The Dishang 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup, the first of the three ITTF RESTART events got under way on Sunday with the Group Stage. The Group Round consisted of 13 players fighting for the right to play the top 8 seeds with the top 2 advancing from each group.
The U.S. has two players participating on Sunday in the Group Stage, Lily Zhang and Jennifer Wu. Canada’s Mo Zhang, and Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz also were a part of the Group Stage. An unfortunate draw placed Adriana Diaz, Lily Zhang, and Mo Zhang in the same group – meaning at most, only two of these players from our region could advance.
Lily Zhang was upset in her first match, losing to fourth seeded Margaryta Pesotska, but Lily bounced back with strong wins over Adriana Diaz and Mo Zhang to win the group. Diaz defeated the third and fourth seeded players to finish second. Lily Zhang will face Tianwei Feng of Singapore on Monday in the draw, and Adriana Diaz will face Sun Yingsha of China.
Jennifer Wu was seeded third in her three-person group, but started the day with an upset win over Petrissa Solja (the top seed in the group). Jennifer fell 4-3 to Chen Szu-Yu of Taipei in her second match, but was the second player to advance. Jennifer will face Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching on Monday afternoon.
The top two seeds are Chen Meng of China and Mima Ito of Japan. They are on opposite sides of the bracket. The “top” half now has both Americans as well. America has two players into the main draw – that is, 2 players in the Final Sixteen.
ITTF TV has been following the matches via livestream.
Check in at ButterflyOnline.com for updates on the progress of this event and other events.
World Cup Update 3:
Lily Zhang bounced back in her second match today. Within the group, she was seeded second but was upset by the fourth seed in her opening match. Lily’s second match puts her back in contention – it was a win over top group seed Adriana Diaz (4-2). The top two advance, so while Lily is not guaranteed to move on, she is in a much stronger position.
Its the first Day of the Women’s World Cup and both Americans have logged an upset win.
World Cup Update 2:
Jennifer Wu was on fire from the first point. Playing the top seed in her group, World No. 20 Petrissa Solja (GER), Jennifer won 11-5, then 11-4, and then in a closer third game pulled out an 11-7 win. Jennifer dominated every aspect of the game, placing short balls better, winning points off of serves, and hitting decisive winners with her forehand.
In the fourth game, Solja jumped out to an early lead but then missed two balls in a row. She called time out tied 4-4. Coming out of the time out, there was a clear momentum shift and she went up 7-5. Jennifer hit a winner that tipped the net to pull within one, but that was as close as she got as Solja was able to hang on for the11-9 win. 3-1 in games with Wu in the lead.
Game five saw both players less sure. Lots of misses early from both players, but a few great shots from Solja provide her with an early 6-3 lead. It is now Solja playing safer balls, and mixing in some very strong forehand winners. Jennifer is hanging on, but more tentative within the points. Solja maintained a 2 point lead throughout the game, eventually winning 11-8. The score is now 3-2 with Wu in the lead.
Solja dominated at the start of the sixth game, running off the first four points. The lead held through 5-1 and then 6-2, and ultimately 11-3. One chance left – score tied with the game score 3-3. Jennifer began with high energy in the seventh game – with audible cheers with every point. The first two points went to Jennifer, just to see it tied at 2-2. The score was again tied at 4-4 and then 5-5. A nice roll by Jennifer game her a 6-5 lead and a strong backhand down the line extended that lead to 7-5. The players exchanged points to an 8-6 Jennifer advantage. A great series by Solja cut the lead and then Wu attacked the backhand side to secure a 9-7 advantage. Again, Solja cut the lead in half with a strong serve – and Jennifer called time-out (up one point in the final game against the World’s No. 20 player). Solja missed a great short service return as Jennifer jumped up 10-8. The next rally was at a blistering pace with Jennifer’s final block going long 10-9. Jennifer pulls out the final point with three sharp balls to Solja’s backhand. a big upset for USA’s Jennifer Wu.
Lily Zhang fell to a determined Margaryta Pesotska in the opening round of GROUP 2 at the Women’s World Cup. Pesotska won the first game 15-13, and then dominated the next two games to take a 3-0 lead. But Lily pulled out an 11-7 win, and dominated the next game to pull within one game.
Lily shifted to a safer, more deliberate style through the final three games. She struck the ball earlier and played more balls towards the center of the table – changing from forehand to backhand but driving flat balls with pace. Pesotska on the other hand seemed to concentrate on spinnier balls, especially on the forehand side. Both players kept a blistering pace with long rallies. In Game 6, Zhang took an 8-6 lead only to lose two in a row and face an 8-8 tie. Zhang then served and won a long rally, and then played two great shots – one down the line and then a very wide backhand shot for the winner). Pesotska then caused two backhand error by Lily to tie the score. A miss across the middle gave Pesotska the lead, and then a great diving forehand loop wide of Lily’s forehand gave Pesotka the upset win.
ITTF TV’s livestream can be found here: https://tv.ittf.com/livestream/weihai-2020-table-1/2221255
Check in at ButterflyOnline.com starting Thursday for updates on the progress of this event and other events.
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