Return to international action but at a different pace
Present in the 2016 Chinese Super League where she represented Shandong Luneng but absent from the global scene since August 2015, when she competed on home soil in the China Open; Gu Yuting made a successful return to the international scene at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in Doha on Tuesday 20th February.
However, she very nearly came to grief.
She trailed Japan’s Miyu Maeda by three games to nil in her opening Women’s Singles contest in the qualification tournament, before eventually emerging successful by the very narrowest of margins in the deciding game (9-11, 7-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6, 12-10).
Furthermore, in the fifth game, she trailed 6-8, the stage at which, Chen Bin, the coach on duty, who last year had advised players and coaches at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Shanghai, called “Time Out”. The break proved absolutely crucial
However, credit to Miyu Maeda, the duel was on the proverbial knife-edge until the very conclusion.
“Today she was nervous, she was very tense”, Chen Bin
Now 22 years old, Gu Yuting enjoyed a highly successful teenage career; she won the Women’s Singles title at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, before in 2013 being crowned World Junior champion in Rabat.
A feature of her play was the breakneck speed at which she played, sometimes it was her downfall.
“I felt fine before the match today; when I was losing in the fifth game, I didn’t change anything tactically after the “Time Out” I just tried to make sure I had a good mind set and kept calm. Now I am trying to adjust more in my play, to play with more spin; to play at a different pace”, Gu Yuting.
Facing imminent defeat in the fifth game; Gu Yuting remained focus, there was no hint of panic. She was confident in her abilities and most importantly of all she played consistently; she could have played faster but most importantly of all she put the ball on the table a safe height over the net.
It was controlled performance, a mature response.