23 April 17 The Straits Times by IAN KIEW
Singapore paddler Feng Tianwei will contest her first International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) singles final today since she was controversially dropped from the national set-up.
The world No. 3 and top seed dispatched Chen Szu-yu 11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8, 3-11, 11-6 in yesterday's Korea Open semi-finals.
The 30-year-old will next face Japanese Kasumi Ishikawa, who easily swept aside compatriot Miu Hirano 11-9, 11-6, 11-5, 11-2 in the other last-four clash at Incheon's Namdong Gymnasium.
Feng had beaten Chinese Taipei's Chen in all five of their past encounters. She said: "I think I played better in this match against Chen Szu-yu, there are some details that I didn't handle well and made some errors in the match.
"But overall, I'm pleased with my performance."
Korea Open titles Feng Tianwei has won.
Feng, winner of this event in 2009 and 2011, took the first game comfortably but the 23-year-old Chen responded strongly after a dressing- down from her coach and levelled the match.
The three-time Olympic medallist used her experience to carve out a 3-1 lead, before letting her concentration slip as Chen easily won the fifth game.
The world No. 53 managed to save four match points but her resistance was ended on Feng's fifth attempt as she closed out the tie 11-6.
"Moving on, I need to be more active and take initiative in the game, and also work more on my physical training," said the Singaporean, who still does not have a full-time coach.
She was dropped by the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) in October last year as part of the association's renewal plans.
Having only dropped three games en route to the final, Feng faces a much trickier assignment against fourth-ranked Ishikawa (2pm Singapore time).
The 24-year-old left-hander may have lost nine of their 16 clashes but has won the last two. The most recent outing was at the women's team event at the Rio Olympics.
Ishikawa won 3-0 and led Japan to a 3-1 victory to secure the bronze.
Feng is seeking her 10th career ITTF singles title but was mindful of bigger tournaments on the horizon. She is targeting a top-four finish - good enough for a bronze - at next month's World Championships in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Feng was part of the Republic's women's team who clinched a historic gold at the 2010 World Championships but has never won an individual world championship medal. She said: "For that, I will have to review my strengths and weaknesses for this period of time and work into the details in my preparation for the World Championships."
Men's/women's doubles & singles finals: Singtel TV Ch110 & StarHub Ch202, 1pm