Tag Archives: chen meng

Chen Meng: China National Games Are Harder Than Olympics

The Chinese Olympic women’s team (Liu Shiwen, Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha, and Wang Manyu) recently gathered for a live Tiktok stream on Liu Shiwen’s channel during their post-Olympic quarantine. One of the notable statements made was that Chen and Liu agreed that the China National Games are significantly harder than the Olympics. Per one report,

When talking about the goal of the National Games, Chen Meng said: “I think this is harder than the Olympic Games.”

Liu Shiwen added: “Don’t be modest, don’t be modest. You are too modest! You are the person who aims to double the championship!” This sentence made Chen Meng anxious: “It’s really strong, you said we are in this video. Which of the four is good at playing, let’s not be humble! There are others that are not on the screen, they are not easy to play. To be honest, the level of China’s National Games is higher than that of the Olympics.”

Liu Shiwen also followed to praise the strength of the national table tennis: “In terms of technical level alone, it is much higher than the Olympic Games.”

Liu stated in another recent media appearance that the post-Olympic quarantine is 21 days, and they are expected to be released on August 30. They will then immediately begin preparations for the China National Games, which are to be held September 15-27, 2021.

The women also discussed their chief rival Mima Ito. Sun Yingsha noted that she was very happy to have a rival like Mima Ito to push her to be stronger. Chen joked that she envied that Sun was able to play Ito twice at the Olympics while Chen did not to get face China’s strongest rival and added that she is looking forward to more rivals like Mima Ito emerging. Wang Manyu is also looking forward to playing Ito in the future, and the Chinese are confident that they can beat her.

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Chen Meng Defeats Sun Yingsha 4-2 to Clinch Olympic Gold

After Sun’s backhand block sailed off the table at match point to deliver Chen Meng the Olympic gold medal, an elated Chen let out a loud cho-lae and immediately went over to hug coach Ma Lin. Chen then went over to give a disappointed Sun a hug, and the gold and silver medalist of the Olympic table tennis women’s singles event took a picture with the Chinese flag.

After dropping the first game, Chen was able to come back with extremely solid play as she took the match 4-2 (9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9). After the match, Chen said, “Now that the match is finally over, I feel like I can finally laugh. “

“Now I feel normal, like I just finished a match, but during the match I was so nervous.”

“I may not have looked that nervous [compared to Sun Yingsha], but I was very nervous, because I have given so much, and she has given so much, everyone really wants the gold. But during the match, I maybe executed better than her, and I think my mentality is more experienced than her too.”

“I think Sha sha played okay today, and I played okay too. To be honest, I don’t think today’s match was pretty to watch, because outside of the first and last game, which were 11-9, the other games were not close, and in the middle we had a lot of errors and mistakes. I think either result [win or lose] of today’s match was reasonable, but in the end I think I was more experienced.”

A gracious Sun said she was satisfied with the result too: “I think I played okay today. Even though I lost, everything I did during my preparations and training, I was able to execute today. Perhaps my skills are just a bit short.”

“I played pretty aggressively the first game, but something about my rhythm just didn’t feel quite right in the next two games.”

“I really have no regrets. I played well, but Meng is better than me…If if I did have regrets, it’s that I didn’t win the finals, but really I gave it my all. I played my own style and to my level, and I have tried my best. The road ahead is still very long. I hope I will also realize my dream!”

Ultimately, the stable Chen held a slight edge on pushing quality and consistency and a small but noticeable advantage on the ever-present backhand-backhand rallies. Sun tried to disrupt things with faster and more aggressive off-the-bounce attempts at winners, but each time it felt like Chen simply took a step back, stuck her racquet up, and blocked back almost everything Sun threw at her.

Sun, who had until the finals not dropped a single game, was still able to push Chen to her limit. Although it felt like Chen was strongly favored to win starting roughly around when she won a critical long rally at 6-4 in Game 5, the outcome of the match never felt determined until Sun’s final block landed out.

Game 1

Both players exchanged crisp serve and return play and backhand-to-backhand rally play as they opened up the game tied 6-6. Sun then won a very long rally after she was able to get one very quick off-the-bounce winner with her backhand that wide to Chen’s backhand. On the next point, Chen pushed deep to Sun’s backhand, Sun spun the ball up, and Chen missed the forehand counterloop to go down 8-6.

Chen closed the gap to 8-7 with a backhand opening to Sun’s elbow followed by a hard wide backhand roll to the corner. Sun was then able to land a cross-court forehand winner against a long push from Chen on the next point. Chen missed a down-the-line roll on the next backhand-backhand rally to go down 10-7.

Chen was able to save two game points with some impressive blocks, including a saved net ball to make it 10-9. On the third game point, the two players engaged in a long backhand-backhand rally, in which Chen saved a net ball before getting a net ball of her own. Sun fished the net ball up, and Chen missed the step-around kill against the high ball to give Sun the first game 11-9.

Game 2

Despite pushing a serve in to the net on the second point of the game, Chen was able to open an early 3-1 lead thanks to two strong openings and a won backhand-backhand rally following a long fast serve to the elbow by Chen. However, Sun was able to win four points in a row off of two strong openings and two missed openings by Chen, giving Sun a 5-3 lead.

Chen answered with a five-point streak of her own off of quality push play and her staple backhand-backhand game to go up 8-5. Sun was able to take a point back by killing a slow roll by Chen to make it 8-6, but two quality attacks and Sun’s second missed push of the game gave Chen the next three points to take the game 11-6.

Game 3

Chen built an early 6-3 lead as she maintained her slight edge over Sun on the backhand-backhand rallies and pushing consistency—Sun made two pushing errors and Chen made none. Chen missed a step-around forehand on the next point against a well-placed backhand spin from Sun to the elbow to make it 6-4. However, Chen was able to win the next five consecutive rallies to take game 3 at a comfortable score of 11-4.

Game 4

Sun came into the game 4 using a new shovel serve from the forehand corner. It was quite effective, as Chen missed three of her first four serve returns, giving Sun an early 5-1 lead. Sun was able to expand that lead to 7-2 with the help of a net-ball, and a confident Sun was able to take control of the next several backhand-backhand rallies to go up 10-4. Sun rushed a winner and missed to cut it to 10-5, but Chen missed a forehand flick against a high push from Sun on the next point to give Sun the fourth game 11-5

Game 5

Whatever advantage Sun had gained through the new shovel serve in game 4 seemed to completely vanish in game 5 as Chen controlled the serve return with quality short pushes and deep pushes to Sun’s backhand and elbow. Although it felt like Chen was blocking all the would-be winners that Sun was throwing at her, Sun was able to keep the score close at 6-4.

At 6-4, the two engaged in a long rally with Chen grunting hard on the last three to five shots of the game before she eventually was able to grind out the point with a pretty down-the-line backhand roll. This gave Chen Meng a 7-4 lead and all the momentum in the game as she cruised to an 11-4 victory after this point.

Game 6

Chen’s hot streak continued into the first point of game 6 as she blocked back several hard loops from Sun before eventually landing a down-the-line forehand winner. Sun was able to take the next point, but missed a push and then a rushed winner to go down 3-1, prompting her to call time-out.

Chen was able to win a backhand roll-to-roll rally on the very next point to go up 4-1, but a combination of nice winners and backhand-backhand rallies from Sun narrowed the lead to 5-4. Chen then attempted to step around on a shot to the elbow twice—once for a cross-court winner and once for a down-the-line winner—but missed both, giving Sun her first lead of the game at 6-5.

However, Chen was able to regroup and level it back to 7-7. At this point, the nerves may have gotten to both players as Chen missed a push and Sun missed two half-long openings, resulting in a 9-8 advantage for Chen. On the next point, Sun hit several hard loops to Chen, but Chen was able to block everything before Sun rushed a forehand into the net, giving Chen a 10-8 advantage.

Sun saved one match point with a deep push to the elbow that Chen looped out to make it 10-9. Sun tried the same play on the next point, but this time Chen was able to execute an opening to Sun’s elbow. Sun blocked the ball out, giving Chen the game 11-9, the match 4-2, and the Olympic gold medal.

Game Notes

One of the more interesting side-notes in the viewership experience is seeing who spectates the game. While a crowd of Chinese athletes (table tennis and non-table tennis) including an alone and depressed Liu Shiwen came out for the Sun vs Ito semi-final, the stands were quite empty for the China vs China final. The spectators mostly consisted of Chinese coaching staff (e.g. Ma Lin, Li Sun, Liu Guoliang) and two Chinese players—Wang Yidi and Wang Manyu—sitting together. Behind Ma Lin sat an alone and very studious-looking Miu Hirano, who will likely be facing one of the Chen and Sun in the women’s team final.

Chen noted her quarter-final match against Doo Hoi Kem as a scary moment for her in the Olympics: “Because in the process, I ran into a lot of difficulties, especially in the quarter-finals…Afterwards I watched the video and I saw Ma Lin jump around, and I feel like he was even more excited than me…I am very thankful to the coaching staff. If it weren’t for their support that day, I probably would not be able to stand on the podium right now.”

More on Ma Lin, “Coach Ma was very excited, even more excited than me. Especially because I think he had a lot of pressure after losing in mixed doubles… But after winning gold, I feel like we can relax for the next couple days [until the team event].”

When asked what she was going to do after the match, Chen laughed and said, “I don’t know yet. I still have unwashed laundry…maybe admire my medal. It’s pretty heavy.”

The players will not have much time to celebrate as the team event starts in a couple days.

The women’s singles event ended up largely playing to expectations, with the heavy favorite Chen Meng taking gold, Sun Yingsha taking silver, and Mima Ito taking bronze.

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If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and a tournament that Edges and Nets will participate in hosting in San Diego in mid-August.

Chen Meng Interview on Her Mentors and Olympic Preparations

Chen Meng recently sat down with WTT for an interview on her Olympic preparations and relationship with several mentors. The transcript (in Chinese) and related images can be found here. We provide an English translation below.

Since when did you feel that you can take on the heavy responsibility of the competition?

Probably in the three competitions [All China National Championships, World Cup, ITTF Finals] after the pandemic restart in 2020. After these three tournaments, it felts okay, but it felt like something was missing. But I don’t know exactly what was missing either. But after these three tournaments, in fact, from my heart, my control, and understanding of myself, I felt confident that I could take it one.

Li Xiaoxia and Zhang Yining are your idols, who do you think you are more like?

Because the personalities may be different, I don’t think I can imitate them, but to be a better version of myself. If you try to imitate, you can’t imitate it, because personality, including some playing styles, are actually not the same. But the type of experience they have, because I usually go to some of their previous games, including the Olympic Games, I think it’s more to learn from their experience. When I reach the moment how should I better help myself get through this time. How to help myself shake off bad moments, and sometimes to learn when it’s good, how they conduct themselves when it’s going well.

Who would you ask to share their experience with you?

Sister Xia, because she belongs to the Shandong team! So I have been with her more since I was a child. Generally, I would ask her for some advice, including now more often from Director Ma [Ma Lin]. Because they all have this kind of experience in the Olympic Games, and they are all successful experiences. So I will learn from them, including preparing for the battle, including what kind of feeling it will be at the Olympics. I will often ask them.

Are you ready for the Olympics?

At the beginning, I was thinking that I haven’t participated, so there were some areas that I felt worried about. But when I think about it later, in fact, I think everything has its pros and cons. Because I have never participated, I am full of expectations for the Olympics, and I am very excited. So in terms of preparing for the battle, I think it will feel fresh. In fact, I feel that this kind of Olympic Games during the pandemic is the first time for everyone, and they have never experienced it. In fact, everyone is the same.

Can you imagine what it’s like on the Olympic Games?

Actually if you ask me to think about it, I really can’t imagine what it looks like. But I went to talk to Director Ma, and he would tell me what it’s like in the Olympics. What he said to me is that you will feel that the surrounding environment will bring you a very nervous atmosphere, because everyone wants to play well and want to win the championship. It’s actually a competition, but the layout of the venue is all five rings. So it always gives you a feeling of excitement and pressure. In fact, he said that as long as people want to fight well, everyone is actually under the same pressure.

And the errors in this environment, it’s not like your usual errors where they don’t matter. Then you feel that everything must be cared for and cherished. However, when he told me this feeling, I didn’t really understand it at first. But after telling me many times, and even after I watched some games, I can actually feel a little bit like this. But I think I have to feel it myself. Prepare yourself, and then make yourself stronger, and then when you face all your opponents at the competition, you will not be scared.

How will the pressure be relieved?

I usually like to talk about it when I am under pressure. I think talking, finding someone who I trust and talking, I think saying it out loud is actually a good kind of release for me. And I don’t like to make myself heavy. I like to be in a relatively relaxed and happy state.

Is there a group of relatives and friends around you, probably a few people, who frequently answer your calls?

Yes, of course.

About four or five?

There aren’t that many. Actually, there are only two of them. I don’t think there are too many people you want to talk to. As long as they understand you and can listen, I think it’s actually enough. If you just listen to what I have been saying, I can speak for about 30 minutes. As far as I am concerned, I am actually quite fast in resolving stress. As long as I am uncomfortable, in fact, as long as I say it, I will feel a lot more comfortable. And I won’t have so many distracting thoughts.

What does the Olympics mean to you?

I think it is a manifestation of personal values. Because I think as an athlete, in fact, I think the best stage for you to show yourself is in the Olympics. It gives me the feeling that all eyes are on me. So I hope I can really show my best mental state and competitive state in just a few days. In fact, I think I really think too much, it’s really so useless. When it’s really time, you have done your best, you have prepared what you should prepare, and you have done what you should do. At that point, you can show yourself, you just need to do your best.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and follow Edges and Nets on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter to stay updated. Check out our translation of Ma Long’s and Liu Shiwen’s interviews with WTT along with other interviews we have conducted and translated and the rest of our Olympic coverage.

Hilights from the Chinese Men vs Women Exhibition Match

The Chinese National Team played an exhibition match between the men’s and women’s team last weekend.

The men started the odd-numbered games (i.e. Games 1, 3, 5, and 7) down 6-8 and the even-numbered games (i.e. Games 2, 4, and 6) down 8-9.

Final Results and links to full matches:

Chen Meng defeats Fan Zhendong 4-3

Sun Yingsha defeats Xu Xin 4-3

Ma Long defeats Liu Shiwen 4-2

Hilights:

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Deng Yaping: Mima Ito Is Not A Serious Threat to China

Coach Deng Yaping recently made several statements to Chinese media regarding the Chinese women’s team’s Olympic preparations and their most serious threat, Mima Ito. A translation of the linked article is provided below.

There are only a little more than 30 days left before the Tokyo Olympics. For the last few days, the Chinese National Team has been preparing for the final stage in Chengdu. As the “first generation big devil” of Chinese and World Women’s Table Tennis, Deng Yaping accepted an interview with Titan [the outlet that wrote the article] reporters. She believes that during this time the players most need to control the rhythm, and the number one opponent Mima Ito does not pose a real threat.

The closed training camp of the national table tennis has come to the final sprint stage. In the last month or so, what should be paid attention to? Deng Yaping, who has rich experience in competitions, especially the Olympics, said that the players should slowly enter the mental game state. After all, the Olympics are still more than a month. They can’t adjust their emotional excitement instantly but instead need to adjust, strengthen and improve it according to the results of the warm-up matches, and gradually deepen it.

“Different from preparing for the previous Olympic Games, there has virtually never been a situation of training without competition. How do we transition slowly from warm-up matches to Olympic competitions? Because the timeline of the Olympic table tennis matches is longer than the usual World Championships, World Cup and Pro Tour events, so we need to control the rhythm, because the competitive state is a very delicate thing. You can’t come out too early, and you can’t come out too late.”

The veteran players are more experienced to deal with this point, so Deng Yaping also said that this is the function of experience: “The veteran players have better experience and control over their nerves. They know that they need to be fully invested in the mental game and a bit excited, but before the game they need to control own excitement and know how much effort to use against the opponent. But at this point, one of our national team’s strong points is the coach’s control of the athletes, so we don’t need to worry about it.”

Speaking of veterans, the two veterans of the women’s table tennis players, between Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen, who participated in the last Olympic Games and won gold [in the team event], Ding withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics competition early, and Liu was passed over for Olympic women’s singles qualification. For Deng Yaping, this is a normal thing. As veteran players, they should have been able to understand and accept such a process very early.

“Any athlete has a peak period and a decline period. Competitive sports will always have a cycle. There will always be someone who will retire. Young people will always come up. The national table tennis team has always had a tradition of passing on help. I believe this arrangement must be approved by the coaching staff. As a result of many deliberations, everyone has their own career, and everyone must stick to their position.”

Therefore, the women’s singles representing the Chinese women’s table tennis team in the Tokyo Olympics will be Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha, who have never experienced Olympic experience. However, Deng Yaping is not worried about their performance: “They have played in world competitions, and they all showed their level. Being able to stand out from the top players in the national table tennis team fully demonstrates their due strength. Although the Olympics is different from other competitions, their competition experience is still rich.”

For their first Olympic journey, Deng Yaping said that the most important thing is their mentality: “Their technical and tactical abilities are definitely not problematic. The main thing is how they think. Don’t think it’s the Olympics, then they will be burdened with the pressure they shouldn’t bear. They cannot think too much about winning or that the two of us must win the championship. We should focus on every opponent and every match.”

With the two Olympic novices and Liu Shiwen, an experienced veteran, Deng Yaping believes that such a female table tennis trio is a very stable and comprehensive lineup for the Olympics: “The three of them happen to be the three generations of the old, middle and youth in the team. Experience, stability, impact, lineup changes can make various changes to opponents, and I look forward to their performance.”

In Tokyo, the biggest opponent of Chinese women’s table tennis is the Japanese team, or Mima Ito, whose face and name are also printed largely on the wall of the national table tennis training hall. Many people say that Mima Ito is small and mobile and fights hard, resembling Deng Yaping. So can she break through the wall that is the Chinese National Team?

Deng Yaping said: “The Chinese Women’s table tennis indeed has very few rivals. Ito is certainly a threat, but how strong is she? I don’t think so. She is indeed unique, but the strength is not strong enough, so we don’t respect her strategically. If we pay attention to her tactically and prepare carefully, I think it is enough. Although she has a good storyline [e.g. homecourt in Tokyo], there is no need to make her so mythical. Our Chinese players have the advantage and confidence to defeat her.”

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Chinese National Team Shares Their Travel Preferences

We translate a recent group of quick interviews about travel that Table Tennis World did with various members of the Chinese National Team over the last several weeks regarding their travel preferences (sources: one, two, three).

What is the favorite place that you have competed in?

Ma Long: Suzhou

Xu Xin: Shanghai

Fan Zhendong: I have traveled to many places for competition, but the places that have left the biggest mark on me are my first singles World Championships in Paris and my first team World Championships in Tokyo.

Lin Gaoyuan: Japan and Korea

Liu Shiwen: Tokyo

Ding Ning: I don’t have a favorite

Chen Meng: Weihai

Sun Yingsha: I go to wherever there’s good food haha

Wang Manyu: My favorite foreign country is Morroco. My favorite domestic city is Shenzhen.

Zhu Yuling: Korea

Which country or city have you been to that you would recommend fans to travel to and why?

Ma Long: China, it has has everything

Xu Xin: Fiji. The weather is good, the sea is good, and it’s expensive (luxurious?).

Lin Gaoyuan: Japan, the grilled meat is delicious.

Liu Shiwen: United States. I feel like there are so many places to go. Although I’ve been there and planned a lot, I haven’t really been to the most fun places.

Chen Meng: Qingdao, my hometown. The scenery is beautiful and it’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There’s also delicious seafood and Tsingtao beer, which will be worth it for everyone.

Sun Yingsha: Everywhere is not bad. I don’t go out too much haha

Where is somewhere you would like to go at least once in your life?

Ma Long: Iceland

Xu Xin: My dream when I was young was to go to Australia, and now I have been there.

Lin Gaoyuan: Maldives

Liu Shiwen: Maldives

Chen Meng: In the sky in a hot air balloon hahaha

Sun Yingsha: Paris

Do you like to travel with a plan or do you do what your heart wants?

Ma Long: A mix of both

Xu Xin: I travel with friends

Fan Zhendong: When you travel, you must go wherever your heart wants

Lin Gaoyuan: When I go out I must travel with a plan.

Liu Shiwen: I travel with a plan.

Ding Ning: I actually prefer to plan the first part, but once I get there then I like the kind of people who just follow their heart.

Chen Meng: I travel with a plan.

Sun Yingsha: Do what my heart wants.

Wang Manyu: Do what my heart wants

Zhu Yuling: I travel with a plan

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Mima Ito Discusses WTT Doha and Tokyo Olympics

Mima Ito appears to have recently created a stir among Chinese media by declaring to Japanese media that she has figured out how to beat potential Olympic opponents Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha. The timing comes right after China’s National Games Qualifier tournament. However, Chen did not participate in the event, and Sun only played doubles. Chinese fans are left guessing whether Ito is really onto something, or whether she is participating in so-called psychological warfare.

Note: we were unable to obtain the original source of the Japanese interview and are only relaying the reaction by Chinese media. If someone could share the original interview, it would be greatly appreciated.

Ito seems to be guessing that China will send Chen and Sun to play the singles event in Tokyo, but China has not yet released its roster. Based on recent comments made by coach Li Sun, there is speculation that China will instead send Chen and reigning World Champion Liu Shiwen, who appears to have fully recovered from the elbow injury that sidelined her during the second half of 2020, to play in the singles event.

At this point, interpreting Ito’s statement is like reading tea leaves, but is it possible that she is trying to bait China into not sending Sun, who is 6-1 against Ito since 2018?

Ito also recently wrote a brief article on some of her thoughts on her performance at WTT Doha. We produce a rough English translation below. Editor notes are in italics.

In WTT Doha in March, I won the single’s champion in two events (i.e. WTT Contender and WTT Star Contender). This tournament is different from previous ones, as the matches were only best three out of five until the quarter-finals. Because I don’t know what would happen under this format, I was very cautious throughout the tournament. Once I reached the stage where it was best four out of seven, I instantly felt relieved and could play comfortably.

Even though I wasn’t immediately playing my best starting from my first match (Ito squeaked by Britt Eerland 3-2 in her first match), my goal every day was simply to play to the level that I know I am capable of, and I slowly began to enjoy it. I feel that whether it is in table tennis technique or my mental game, I have become stronger in many aspects.

Different from last year’s world tour, WTT uses many different types of lighting, so the whole arena feels like a movie theatre. It made me feel very glamorous. Also different from the usual tournaments is that the barriers were very low, so it’s really easy to hit the ball outside of the playing area. The athletes also had to pick up the balls. Whenever I did this, I would start thinking, “if I take this path and walk around this way, I can get to the ball faster.” I would think about these things while playing the tournament.

Throughout these two competitions, I felt that winning the point during the first three shots was my main playing style (shameless plug: check out a similar observation Edges and Nets made in our finals analysis). When I win points through the serve and receive, I play with more excitement (unsure if this is the correct term. The original Japanese word appears to be ノリノリ).

I started gaining confidence in my serve when I won the German Open in March 2015, where I beat very high-ranked players (Ito beat Feng Tianwei, who was ranked number four at the time). I felt that my serves were very good, which made it difficult for my opponents to play aggressively.

At the time, I felt that as long as I could get the two points on my serves, it was enough. However, as I started playing these players more often, even if I won both my points on the serve, I would just return two points back to them on the serve return. Hence, I think both my serve and serve return need improvement.

I need to think carefully and come to a decision on whether to play international tournaments before the Olympics. Before WTT Doha, I did a lot of practice matches with many other players. I think this format is good as it gives the feeling of competition, but at the same time I can get some training in. I hope I can continue to use this method to prepare for the Olympics.

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