(by Steve Hopkins)
Thanksgiving Day had hardly began, and Lily Zhang had but one more reason to provide thanks – a Combined Doubles win with associate Lin Gaoyuan that launched the pair into the Spherical of 16. Zhang and Gaoyuan are one of many two China/USA pairings honoring the fiftieth Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy, and regardless of by no means having paracticed earlier than, they’re rolling. They topped Tiago Aponoia and Jieni Shao within the Spherical of 64 by a 3-0 rating, and at this time they topped a powerful German Workforce of Dang Qiu and Nina Mittelham 3-1. Subsequent up for Zhang and Gaoyuan is the Russian staff of Skachkov and Vorobeva, and a win there’ll put them into the Quarterfinals.
Zhang’s Singles run has additionally been spectacular. Her opening match was a 4-0 win over Leonie Hartbrich, and within the Spherical of 64, she defeated Andrea Todorovic 4-2. This night, Zhang discovered herself matched up in opposition to Doo Hoi Kem of Hong Kong, a participant who has crushed Lily every time that they’ve confronted one another (together with wins on the Olympics and at a earlier World Championships).
Doo is No. 13 within the World, so a win isn’t sudden – however not like a few of these earlier conferences the place the match was extra lopsided, Lily Zhang gave Doo an actual run at this time. Actually, within the third recreation, Lily was up 10-8 and couldn’t shut — Doo stormed again and pulled out the win 13-11. The 2 traded video games till the top, with the seventh recreation neck and neck.
Selecting up that remaining recreation with the rating 5-5: Level to Doo with a excessive spinning backhand down the road. Subsequent level to Doo with a internet that floated lengthy for Zhang. That really marked the primary 2-point lead of the sport. Zhang’s subsequent level was an edge, shrinking the result in one (7-6 Doo). Doo went with a really aggressive backhand topspin cross court docket to increase the result in 2. Zhang went with a protracted serve, and two massive forehands to win her first service and shrink the lead once more. Doo went again to her backhand down the road to increase the lead once more. Zhang landed a crosscourt forehand to win the following level. An 8 shot rally ended with Doo’s forehand going lengthy, and left the sport tied at 9-9. Sadly for Zhang, the following two factors ended with a powerful Doo backhand, after which a Zhang miss into the web. That ended the sport and the match.
Lily Zhang fell simply brief – actually one shift of momentum or a pair nets away from topping World No. 13 and advancing to the Closing 16. Its at all times disappointing when a formidable run ends, however this consequence was a strong displaying on one of many largest World Levels – and the consequence in opposition to this robust opponent was higher than any of the earlier makes an attempt. Maybe the perfect take-away on this Thanksgiving, is that America’s greatest feminine participant remains to be enhancing. All of us sit up for seeing what’s subsequent.
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