North Korea’s Kim Song-I scored her second upset of the Olympics as she knocked off Singapore’s Yu Mengyu in six games Tuesday morning.
Kim, who won a seven-game thriller against fourth-seeded Kasumi Ishikawa in the third round, relied on her slice backhand and Yu’s impatience to outlast the tournament’s nine seed. In a match where long rallies were the norm, Kim outlasted Yu by playing a defensive game and waiting on her opponent to make an unforced error.
The duo traded points in the opening game, which was tied at every juncture up to 8-all. There, Kim won three straight to take an early lead.
Yu fought back in game 2 to even the match with an emphatic 11-6 victory. But Kim answered right back with an 11-5 win of her own.
After an 11-6 win in game 4, it looked like Kim had the match sown up in the fifth at 9-6. But Yu rallied to win five straight points at force a sixth game.
There, Kim went on a 7-0 run to take a commanding 7-2 lead. At 10-6, she had four chances to finish Yu off.
Match point was the contest in a microcosm: Kim ten feet behind the table offering lobs, Yu smashing returns ad nauseum until one clipped the top of the net and flew wide.
Kim now becomes the first woman from North Korea to make an Olympic table tennis semifinal since Kim Hyang-Mi in 2004.
The quarterfinals continue streaming on NBCOlympics.com all day long.
Sixth-seeded Ai Fukuhara of Japan summarily dismissed Singapore’s Feng Tianwei for the day’s first upset in the quarterfinals of the women’s singles tournament.
Fukuhara, who entered the day with a losing record against Feng, leaned on her powerful forehand to deliver winner after winner and take the contest in straight sets.
Game 1 certainly didn’t offer any indication that a clean sweep was to come. The game was tied on eight different occasions before Fukuhara ripped two forehands to take the game 14-12.
Game 2 was just as tightly contested. Even for the sixth time of the game, the table tennis prodigy from Miyagi, Japan, won three straight points at 8-8 to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
Fukuhara started to distance herself in game 3, keeping Feng at arm’s length to win 11-7, before pouring on the style in a blowout game 4.
Fukuhara will now compete for the medals starting with a semifinal against London gold medalist Li Xiaoxia of China on Wednesday.
More quarterfinals are still to come Tuesday morning, with all matches streaming live on NBCOlympics.com.
Reigning Olympic champion Li Xiaoxia (CHN) hadn’t dropped a game during her march to the quarterfinals. So why start now?
Li defeated Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei in four games Tuesday morning in the opening match of the round of eight at the Riocentro.
Li opened with a signal of intent, taking the first five points of the match en route to an 11-5 win in the first game. She would win the second by the same score, going on a 6-0 run to break a 5-5 tie.
She would continue that run to take a 3-0 lead in the third game before trading the next twelve points with Cheng. But at 9-6, Li would take the next two to take a commanding three games to none lead.
Li hardly slowed down in game 4, winning 11-6 to advance to the semifinals Wednesday. There, she’ll face the winner of the 10:00 AM ET quarterfinal between Japan’s Ai Fukuhara and Singapore’s Feng Tianwei.
All the quarterfinal action streams live today on NBCOlympics.com.