Chan pulls off shock victory
By NORIDEEN KITCHELL
HONG KONG'S Chan Tan-lui surprised even herself when pulling off an upset win over China's defending champion Qiao Hong in the first round of the Asian Women All Stars tournament at the Southorn Stadium last night.
Beijing-born Chan defeated Qiao 21-17, 21-18, 10-21, 12-21, 21-14 for her first win over the world number two in more than three years.
'This is my first competitive game since the World Championships in May and I didn't even have much chance to practice,' said Chan, citing there is no playing partner in Canberra where she is taking a sports administration degree.
'Qiao Hong looked tired today, probably because she only arrived here this morning. She certainly didn't play her best table tennis, but it was still a good win for me.' Chan was always in control in the first game, pulling away from 9-9 to take a 16-12 lead and never looked back.
She started strongly in the second game for a 4-1 advantage but had to stave off a scare to win it 21-18 when Qiao won four points on the trot to level the tally at 18-18.
Chan's lack of match practice showed with victory within her grasp as she tightened up and errors crept into her game.
Qiao easily won the third and fourth games to level the tally but Chan regained her confidence after smashing her way to a 4-0 start in the decider, holding a 10-7 advantage on changing ends and going on to win it 21-14.
Qiao, however, was unperturbed by the defeat and said the three-tournament series which was introduced in 1993 is getting boring.
Said Qiao: 'I wasn't desperate to beat Chan because this match meant very little to me, otherwise perhaps the result would be different.
'This All Stars series is getting a bit boring because we have more or less the same players every year and the majority of us coming from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
'Perhaps it would be better just to make it a China-Hong Kong-Taiwan challenge, and at least there is national pride at stake.' Meeting Chan in tonight's semi-final is in-form Taiwanese Chen Jing, who swept to a comprehensive 21-14, 21-10, 21-15 victory over Japan's Fumiyo Kaizu.
The 27-year-old Chen, the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games gold medallist when she was representing China, is scaling new heights in her career with recent wins in Austria and Sweden.
Her world ranking has jumped four places to a career high number three in the latest International Table Tennis Federation chart issued last Wednesday.
Hong Kong's world number five Chai Po-wa advanced with a 16-21, 21-15, 21-16, 16-21, 24-22 victory over Taiwan's Xu Jing and the last semi-final berth went to China's Liu Wei, who beat Taiwan's Tang Fei-ming 21-15, 16-21, 21-17, 17-21, 21-18.