Canada’s Zhang Mo spoilt Singapore’s bid for an unprecedented golden sweep after India settled for six bronze medals on the final day of the Commonwealth table tennis championship here on Friday.
For the third successive time, Singapore fell one short of sweeping all seven titles. In 2007 and 2009, the men’s doubles title eluded Singapore as the Nigerians Kazeem Nosiru and Merotohun Monday clinched the crown at Jaipur and two years later, Sharath Kamal and Subhajit Saha won in Glasgow.
The men’s singles final was as one-sided as expected with top seed Zhan Jian blanking teammate Li Hu — the conqueror of Sharath Kamal in the semifinals — in straight games. The outcome of the final became predictable after the manner in which Singapore’s Chen Feng surrendered to Jian in quick time in the semifinals.
Jian eventually finished with four gold medals, including three from the open events — men’s singles, mixed and men’s doubles. Singapore finished with six gold, two silver and three bronze medals.
The women’s final turned out to be the best match of the evening. Mo, of Chinese-origin, had missed the team championship after a delay in getting the visa. But, in the singles, she played way above her world ranking of 164, particularly against Yu Mengyu, top seed and ranked fifth.
In fact, Yu was looking to shed the runner-up tag after losing the 2009 final as well as the gold medal match of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. In this high-quality final, Mo won the first three games, conceding just six points in each, to raise visions of a one-sided match.
Mo’s brilliant blocks and forehand drives frustrated Yu, who struggled to keep the ball in play for long.
But, all credit to Yu for winning the next three games after engaging Mo in long rallies and forcing errors from her opponent.
Early on during the decider, Yu opened up a three-point lead but Mo fought back brilliantly. At 8-8, Mo went for quick counter-attacks and won two quick points. Up two match-points, Mo kept up the pressure and Yu succumbed by hitting a forehand long.
Earlier, all the Indians on view lost in the semifinals to settle for the consolation bronze medals. As a result, the host had to settle for two silver and seven bronze for its best tally of nine medals from the championship.
Sharath goes down fighting
Sharath fought gamely against Li Hu before losing 1-4. Having lost to the Singaporean in the team event, Sharath had prepared to engage his rival in long rallies and the ploy worked well for the better part of the game. Two services errors at crucial times cost Sharath two games.
Sharath and Saha were dethroned by the British pair in five games after leading 2-1. “The defeat in the doubles hurt more, but overall I think I performed at about 6.5 on a scale of 10,” said Sharath, who will lead the Indian contingent in the World championship in Paris next week.
The results: Men’s singles: Final: Zhan Jian (Sin) bt Li Hu (Sin) 13-11, 11-6, 11-1, 11-6.
Semifinals: Jian bt Chen Feng (Sin) 11-7, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9; Hu bt Sharath Kamal 12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 12-10, 11-4.
Women’s singles: Final: Zhang Mo (Can) bt Yu Mengyu (Sin) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6, 5-11, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8.
Semifinals: Mengyu bt Mouma Das 11-8, 15-17, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4; Zhang bt Manika Batra 11-9, 10-12, 12-10, 6-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6.
Men’s doubles: Final: Zhan Jian & Yang Zi (Sin) bt Christopher Doran & Samuel Walker (Eng) 13-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-3.
Semifinals: Doran & Walker bt Sharath Kamal & Subhajit Saha 4-11, 11-8, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7; Jian & Zi bt Andrew Baggaley & Daniel Reed (Eng) 11-5, 11-3, 11-4.
Women’s doubles (final): Feng Tianwei & Yu Mengyu (Sin) bt Joanna Parker & Kelly Sibley (Eng) 9-11, 11-7, 11-2, 11-3.
Semifinals: Feng & Yu bt K. Shamini & Mouma Das 11-9, 11-9, 11-2; Parker & Sibley bt Madhurika Patkar & Neha Aggarwal 12-10, 11-4, 11-3.