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Defences breached, bodyguard taken prisoner

Rising to the occasion, meeting the challenge, it is nothing new for Poland’s Natalia Partyka; commencing in Athens in 2004, she has no less than five Paralympic Games gold medals to her credit.

On Thursday 23rd February in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in Doha; once again she rose to the occasion, she met the challenge.

Natalia Partyka totally focused in Doha (Photo: Hussein Sayed)

She beat the bodyguard, the player who is there to protect her Chinese colleagues from foreign invasion.

Maintaining patience and concentration, she overcame China’s Wu Yang, the no.7 seed, the player whose defeats against adversaries from beyond her nation’s boundaries can be counted on one hand; certainly you do not need an abacus to determine the answer.

Three years ago to the month, she was beaten by Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Kuwait Open by the very narrowest of seven game margins (9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 16-14).

In Doha, the outcome was just as close, just as dramatic; in the vital seventh game, Natalia Partyka led 9-4, the next two points went to Wu Yang but at 10-6 it was four match points in favour of Poland.

Determined, resolute as always, Wu Yang mounted a recovery but she could not complete the recovery; Natalia Partyka was not going to let the golden opportunity escape. Three match points saved, with just one left, top spin play eventually overcame resolute defence; a tense seven games win was clinched (11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-9).