(by Steve Hopkins, photo ITTFWorld)
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
In other Round 1 Action, Adriana Diaz (PR) topped Mo Zhang (CA) 4-1.
After 8 months of waiting, the ITTF Tour is back this weekend. The Dishang 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup, the first of the three ITTF RESTART events gets under way on Sunday. Twenty one of the world’s best women players are emerging from an isolation period (to minimize potential COVID exposure) in Weihai, China. The 21 players include the current World Champion, 17 continental cup qualifiers, with the remaining invites granted based largely upon World Ranking with a maximum of 2 entries per country.
The U.S. has two players participating this year, Lily Zhang and Jennifer Wu. Canada’s Mo Zhang, and Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz also join this elite group.
The Group drawing was posted today with 13 players fighting through a group stage for the right to play the top 8 seeds. That means that the top 2 will advance from each group.
The top two seeds in Group 1 are Jeon Jihee of Korea and Ying Han of Germany. The top two seeds in Group 2 are Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico and Lily Zhang of the USA. The top two seeds in Group 3 are Petrissa Solja of Germany and Szu-Yu Chen of Taipei. And the top two seeds in Group 4 are Hyowon Suh of Korea and Bernadette Szocs of Romania.
USA’s Jennifer Wu is the third seed in Group 3. She will have to overcome one of the other players in order to advance – which is no easy task in an event with only the best. The top player in that group is Petrissa Solja (*who won 4-1 when the players met at the World Championships in 2017). Jennifer has never faced the second player, Szu-Yu Chen. Chen is ranked World No. 26 and Jennifer is ranked World No. 32.
The draw has not been posted yet, so the exact path of each advancing player is uncertain. What is certain, is that every match will be closely contested as the event is a collection of only the World’s best.
Check in at ButterflyOnline.com starting Thursday for updates on the progress of this event and other events.
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