Feng Yalan the Women's Singles Campion
Photo By: Magdy El_Dakroury
GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour, Kuwait Open, (Click here to access this section)
Crowned World Junior champion in Cairo in December 2006, China’s Feng Yalan, now 22 years old, won the Women’s Singles title at the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Kuwait Open on Saturday 18th February and thus repeated the success of two years earlier in Berlin.
In the Max Schmelling Sports Centre in March 2010, she won not only the Under 21 Women’s Singles title but also donned Women’s Singles crown.
On that occasion she beat colleagues Wu Yang in the final of the former and Ding Ning in the final of the latter.
The win against Wu Yang underlined the fact that Feng Yalan is very adroit against defensive players; in Kuwait she found a defensive player in form, a player who saved extended the Chinese star the full seven games distance, saving four match points in the sixth game and one in the seventh.
Seeded no.7, Feng Yalan overcame Kim Kyung Ah, seeded one place higher in five games to secure the title in a titanic struggle.
Feng Yalan won 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 9-11, 13-11, 16-18, 11-6
Unquestionably in terms of experience there was no comparison; Kim Kyung has been a regular competitor in the ITTF Pro Tour for over a decade; in fact it was ten years ago that she won her first ever title on the Tour when she succeed in Kobe at the Japan Open.
Since that success she has added four more ITTF Pro Tour Women’s Singles titles; in 2004 she succeeded in Croatia before in 2005 hitting a purple match. She won on three consecutive appearances, succeeding in Chile, Brazil and then on home soil in Suncheon in the south of Korea.
Conversely, Feng Yalan won her first and her one and only ITTF Pro Tour Women’s Singles title in 2010 when she succeeded in Berlin at the German Open.
Experience may well have favoured Kim Kyung Ah but history favoured Feng Yalan.
On their one previous meeting on the international scene, Feng Yalan had beaten Kim Kyung Ah and in an emphatic manner. She won in three straight games when the pair met in June 2006 in Shanghai at the Volkswagen China versus World All Stars contest.
Powerful, a dynamic forehand, Feng Yalan possesses the armoury to conquer defenders and so it proved to be the situation in Kuwait.
The situation was clearly illustrated in the first two games; Feng Yalan overpowered Kim Kyung Ah who at times had a distinct look of resignation on her face.
However, despite any facial expressions, Kim Kyung Ah is very strong mentally, she recovered to capture the third game and held a lead in the fourth.
Feng Yalan levelled at 8-all; her incredible defensive skills eventually forcing errors from Feng Yalan as she moved ahead 10-8.
The Chinese star won the next point, Kim Kyung Ah called “Time Out”; a crucial stage of the contest had been reached. Feng Yalan returned quickly to the table, Kim Kyung Ah some seconds later; she decided to take a risk, she attacked, the positive move paid dividends.
Kim Kyung Ah won the point; it was parity.
A tense fifth game ensued with Feng Yalan striving every sinew to penetrated the defensive wall erected by Kim Kyung Ah.
She saved game points at 9-10 and 10-11 before eventually winning three points in a row to secure the game.
Feng Yalan was game away from the title.
Determination was written across the faces of both players and Kim Kyung Ah wasd testing the patience of Feng Yalan.
In the sixth game Kim Kyung Ah went ahead 5-3; Feng Yalan changed her policy somewhat; instead of trying to execute pile driving winners, she employed the policy of controlled forehand top spins, waiting for the chance to attack strongly.
However, she did make mistakes, Kim Kyung Ah moved ahead 9-6 and with a fast forehand drive held four games points at 10-6.
Feng Yalan saved all four game points; then at 11-10 held match point. The match point was saved. A rush of blood, Feng Yalan attempted a fast forehand to follow her service, the ball flew long; 12-11 to Kim Kyung Ah, game point saved with a counter top spin forehand.
Match Points Saved
Next point to Feng Yalan, a second match point; again Kim Kyung Ah saved as a Feng Yalan forehan top spin flew long; it was 13-all. A fearsome attack, a third match point for Feng Yalan; she led 14-13, she called “Time Out”.
Again after a long rally the match point was saved; another long rally, a fourth match point for Feng Yalan at 15-14; saved again!
Yet another long point but this time in favour of Kim Kyung Ah; game point saved when Kim Kyung Ah missed a high ball attempting a forehand smash. It was 16-all.
The next point went to Kim Kyung Ah when a Feng Yalan forehand finished in the base of the net; then success for Kim Kyung Ah, it was parity, a deciding seventh game beckoned.
In the deciding seventh game, Feng Yalan made the better start, playing cautiously she led 5-1 when the players changed ends.
Kim Kyung Ah fought, she reduced the arrears to 8-5 in favour of Feng Yalan but she came no nearer; the next two points both went to Feng Yalan, she held five match points.
The first was saved, the fifth overall but not the next; Feng Yalan celebrated.