Wu Yue Captures Pan Am Cup Bronze

By Matt Hetherington | Feb. 03, 2019, 5:47 p.m. (ET)

A bronze medal for USA's Jennifer Wu at the 2019 Pan American Cup was a fitting way to end her tournament in Puerto Rico. Wu, currently ranked in the top 50 women in the world, has been training and competing to the highest standards in Austria and has shown leaps and bounds in improvement in her game. 

This morning proved to be a big test as she came up against the home crowd favorite, Adriana Diaz. The stadium filled with energy and support for Diaz, it was up to Wu to block out the pressure and focus on the match, a challenging thing to do in the face of hundreds of opposition supporters. 

Facing a 2-0 deficit in the semifinal match, Wu adapted and pushed back into the match. She matched Diaz in pace and produced some excellent table tennis, pushing the current World number 30 all the way to the seventh and deciding game. Alas it was not to be, as Diaz summoned everything she had and made one last push to steal away the result and a place in the final. 

It's never an easy thing to walk away from such a close defeat at an event like the Pan Am Cup, but Wu had one match remaining - the bronze medal match. 

Wu faced off against Brazil's Bruna Takahashi, currently 69 in the world and one of the big contenders in the Pan American region. 

At the Pan Am Championships last November it was Takahashi who had led a convincing 3-0 win over Wu in the team competition, but Wu came to the table with resolve and complete focus. 

Wu got the ball rolling, though the two players fought back and forth for the lead in the first game. Ball placement was key and in the rallies it was Wu who took the upper hand towards the end of the set and earned herself a 1-0 lead. 

Takahashi was quick to strike back, fast on the close-table counters and mixing her high toss serve variations with tight play and rapid backhand to backhand exchanges. She opened up a lead in the second and didn't look back, leveling the match at 1-1. 

Takahashi was blistering with her forehand counters into the third game and was executing outstanding timing. Wu clung to the game and kept the score margins close. As she moved in and closed the gap to 9-10, Takahashi struck again with a snapping forehand counter to win the game. The Brazilian now held a 2-1 lead in the match. 

Now behind in the match, Wu only grew more focused. Her hook serve variations proved super effective throughout the remainder of the match as she stormed back to balance the match and push out to a lead. She kicked off the 5th set with a 5-0 lead and held the advantage to push seal it, now ahead 3-2 in the best of 7 match. 

Wu held her focus and was starting to do much better at picking up the half-long leaking serves of Takahashi, initiating the rallies and taking control. It proved enough pressure to force Takahashi to switch to the reverse pendulum serve, but Wu kept her receive tight and grew faster in the topspin exchanges.

As the score reached deuce, Wu saw an opportunity and knew she had to capitalize immediately. A lose serve receive gave her opponent an opportunity to come in and flip the ball hard, but Wu was ready and waiting on her forehand corner and quickly fired off one of her signature counterloops. 

It was match point for the US player. 

Switching across to her backhand serve she went for a classic serve and attack, following up with a backhand loop wide to Takahashi's backhand. The match was done, 4-2 for USA's Jennifer Wu and a bronze medal, a positive way to finish her tournament. 

Congratulations Jennifer!