North Korea’s Kim Song-I entered Wednesday’s semifinal already having two high-profile upsets to her credit in these Olympics. Possessing a devastating slice backhand and an unorthodox serve, she was looking to score her most impressive victory of the tournament yet when she faced China’s Ding Ning.
Ding would have none of that.
The 2012 runner-up outlasted Kim in five games Wednesday morning to set up a tantalizing rematch of London’s final against her compatriot Li Xiaoxia later tonight.
The match was closer than the scoreboard would indicate; running at 50 minutes, it took twice as long as the morning’s first semifinal.
Ding was able to take the first game of the affair 11-5 on the back of a 4-0 run that gave her breathing room. But Kim would answer back in a hotly contested second game, 11-9.
The loss, Ding’s first dropped set of these Games, seemed to galvanize the world’s second-ranked player, as she answered back with emphatic victories of 11-6 and 11-3.
In game 5, the two traded body blows until, at 6-6, Ding won three straight to put her in the driver’s seat. At 10-9, Ding smashed a wicked forehand that clipped the edge of the table to send her back to the gold medal match.
Ding will be seeking revenge tonight as she faces her teammate Li. Li was a 4-1 victor in London four years ago.
Kim will try to find consolation in the bronze medal match against Japan’s Ai Fukuhara in what should be a mouth-watering undercard.
You can catch the medal rounds streaming live tonight starting at 7:30 PM ET on NBCOlmypics.com.
Routine dominance was the story of the day in the first women’s singles semifinal as China’s Li Xiaoxia dismissed Japan’s Ai Fukuhara in straight sets. Li, the reigning Olympic champion, now has the chance to defend her gold medal this evening.
Li thoroughly outclassed her opponent throughout and seemed to get better as the contest went on, taking the match 11-4, 11-3, 11-1, 11-1 in just 24 minutes. Li was so in control that at times it looked she was taking points at will. She went on runs of 9-0, 6-0, 9-0, and 8-0 in each respective game.
Time and time again, Fukuhara seemed to be in control of a point, only to see her advantage evaporate with one flick of Li’s wrist, the champion from China turning defense into attack seemlessly.
Li will now await the winner of the other semifinal this morning between her compatriot Ding Ning and North Korea’s Kim Song-I.
The silverware gets handed out tonight with the bronze medal match at 7:30 PM ET, immediately followed by the gold medal match at 8:30 PM ET. As always you can catch all the action streaming live on NBCOlympics.com.