US Women Prevail Against Austria to Enter World Cup Quarterfinal

By Matt Hetherington | Nov. 07, 2019, 2:08 a.m. (ET)


After suffering defeat at the hands of the host nation Japan, the US Women needed to beat Austria in order to match their performance of two years ago when they reached the quarterfinal stage of the 2018 World Team Cup in London.

The team of Lily Zhang, Wu Yue and Amy Wang, along with Coach Gao Jun, were looking good to beat the Austrian side, without its star player Sofia Polcanova. A win would land the US team among the top 8 at the 2019 ZEN-NOH ITTF World Team Cup. 

Lily Zhang and Wu Yue led out with the opening doubles, proving too strong for the Austrian combination of Mischek and Solja. The pair were comfortable with the left hand and antispin pairing and cruised through to a straight sets win to land USA the first point on the board. 

Amy Wang was first up for the singles and took on the experience left handed veteran Liu Jia. The Austrian has won 4 singles medals at the European Championships, including gold in 2005. Ranked as high as 9th in the world at that time, the 37 year old carries a wealth of skill and experience in her game. 

Wang played fluidly and put up a strong fight against her opponent, getting off to a good start in the match by taking the first game. On occasion she caught Liu out with long fast serve variations to the backhand, and often targeted the wide forehand - a key weakness for most left handed players. 

Liu recovered to take the next two games, but Wang held steady to take the 4th. It would go neck and neck in the fifth game, but in the final moments it was Liu Jia with her worldly skill who would close out and tie up the team match at 1-1.

Wu Yue came to the rescue for Team USA as she dismantled Amelie Solja in the third match. The antispin backhand of Solja caused few issues for Wu as she sailed into action. Her comfortable position was highlighted with some powerful backhand third ball winners and she confidently pushed her way to a 3-0 win.

The task fell back to Amy Wang as USA held an important 2-1 lead. She faced Karoline Mischek. 

A decisive first game raised hope for the US bench as Wang looked unstoppable, but Mischek completely turned the tables in the second game and returned the favor with an even more convincing 11-3 win. 

All of a sudden the match grew intensely close, points fell evenly between the two players, but Mischek broke away to a 10-6 lead. A 2-1 lead would be dangerous ground for Wang, and she began to claw back one point at a time. The match reached a crescendo at 10-10 in the 3rd game. Fortunately for the nervous US fans, Wang was able to calmly collect the next 2 points and take a 2-1 lead. She had won 6 points in a row to clutch the game against the odds.

Wang executed fluid strokes and exceptional wide placements, all with an effortless aura and an unbreakable visage. 

The fourth game came close again, as Wang held a handful of match points. On this occasion it was Mischek who battled back, and in the blink of an eye it was 10-9 for Wang. Only of her match points remained.

With decisive execution she finished the point and sealed victory for the US team.

The USA join China, Japan and Korea as one of 4 teams to advance in both the Men's and Women's draws to the quarterfinals. Not bad company to be among, and another clear message to the world of table tennis that the USA are on the rise!

Congratulations to the team and to Coach Gao Jun on the bench.

Both the Men and Women are set to play China in the quarterfinals, the Men tonight (19:30 Japan Time) and the Women tomorrow.