|Posted by Anna Rice on February 27, 2009 at 2:36 PM|
"That's why she's world Champion", is all I could say to myself after my tough match against China's Zhu Lin yesterday at the German Open. After a good start to the tournament with a win over Germany's fourth highest ranked woman Karin Schnaaze, I was excited to meet the (stil reigning) world champ.
Our last encounter occurred just a few days before Zhu Lin won the crown as the world's best, and we had a good match then before the raucous Malaysian crowd. In the match yesterday- as in K.L. two years ago, the first set was very close in score until 18, at which point some smart shot selections from Zhu led to some weak replies on my end.
In the second set, I struggled to find the backline, hitting some unforced errors, so I changed to a more attacking game. This worked, though only temporarily. After a few points went my way, Zhu aptly took a step forward on the court and started counter pressing my attempts to hit through her. Coming out of the break with a solid lead, her confidence grew and when she gets to this state, she reveals why she's the reigning world champion.
So what's her weakness? If you can stay with her, challenge her physically in the rallies while at the same time adapting to her cunning tactical skills, her mental stability can be shaken. However, shaken and broken are two completely different things.
Can and will she defend her crown this summer in India, you may be asking? My answer: Yes she can. But likely no she won't. Her first hurdle will be proving she's worthy of selection onto the Chinese roster, as there are only three spots amidst the hungry likes of Wang Yihan, Wang Lin and Lu Lan, not to mention the new Chinese queen bee Xie Xingfeng. A win at the All England would certainly help her case.
I'll get another crack at this tough nut in a fortnight, when Zhu Lin and I are set to play in the opening round of the Wilson Swiss Open. Hopefully the lessons of yesterday will bring me a step closer to victory.