Commonwealth Games Gao Ning digs deep to take gold
Glasgow: Singapore top seed Gao Ning came back from 3-2 down to make the Commonwealth Games table tennis men`s final with an exciting 11-8, 11-13, 14-12, 6-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6 win over England`s Liam Pitchford on Saturday.
The world number 12 avoided an upset after Pitchford, ranked 56 in the world, had played some inspired table tennis in a one hour and four minute contest.
Pitchford could not quite counter the Singaporean`s dominance but earned many plaudits with the crowd on the edge of their seats in arguably the closest singles match of the entire 10 day event.
"It was a tough match," said Gao. "Pitchford was the younger and stronger player, so I went for longer rallies. It was a matter of fighting to the end and seeing who made the most mistakes."
"Pitchford`s a young player who has improved a lot during the last two years but he made more mistakes than I did, that`s why I won."
"It was a great match, I`m really disappointed I didn`t get through, because I had some chances, and I had him under pressure," said Pitchford.
"I`ve been playing really well, I didn`t have anything to lose."
Gao will now compete for the gold medal on Saturday evening against second seed countryman Zhan Jian who had a more straightforward 11-6, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 victory over Sharath Kamal of India.
"I was well prepared for this match," said Gao.
"Kamal`s a veteran player, and an excellent one, so I was familiar with his game. Actually my playing style is a little unusual, I don`t think he quite adjusted to it, and the way I played the ball. Today I seized my chance."
There was more success for Singapore as women`s singles gold and silver medallists Feng Tianwei Yu Mengyu assured they would pick up a second medal for Singapore as they comfortably overcame the threat of English pairing Joanna Drinkhall and Kelly Sibley to make the final of the women`s doubles.
The top seeds won 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 and will next play Australians Lay Jian Fang and Miao Miao after they beat Anqi Luo and Mo Zhang of Canada in equally convincing fashion 11-8, 11-7, 11-7.
For 41-year-old Lay it represents quite an achievement and she will look to go one better after winning three silvers and two bronze medals at the 2002 and 2006 Games.
"It`s a great moment," she said. "We`re in the final. It`s such a big achievement. We will fight in the finals."