Wang Yihan was staring at defeat when a flash of painful memories jolted her into life.
With South Korea’s Sung Ji-hyun on the brink of a sensational win at 21-14, 20-16, Yihan completed the mother of all comebacks to deliver the first point for China in their Uber Cup final at the Wuhan Sports Gymnasium Centre yesterday.
And her superb fighting spirit saw her conquer the South Korean 14-21, 22-20, 21-13 in one hour and 26 minutes.
It was just the right tonic to inspire her team-mates and China duly went on to wrest the Uber Cup back from South Korea with a 3-0 win.
The other two points came from world champions Yu Yang-Wang Xiaoli and Wang Xin.
Yu Yang-Xiaoli tamed Kim Min-jung-Ha Jung-eun 21-15, 21-13 while Wang Xin clinched the winning point with a sensational 21-10, 21-16 win over Bae Youn-joo in 39 minutes.
It was China’s 12th Uber Cup title and they deservingly celebrated their victory with their delirious home fans.
For Yihan, with defeat just a point away, her mind drifted back to two years ago – when she failed to deliver the opening point for the team as the first singles in her debut in Malaysia. Her defeat saw China eventually losing to South Korea in that final.
That’s something that has haunted her for the last two years.
And Yihan made sure it didn’t happen again yesterday as she played her part in China’s revenge.
“I almost lost ... the score was 16-20 in the second, but I turned and looked at the Uber Cup trophy (displayed at the adjacent court). It reminded me of my failure and I did not want to miss the Cup again,” said Yihan.
“I began to immediately make plans in my head to stage a fightback. I had been playing to her momentum and needed to get my game going. This was in contrast to my outing two years ago when my mind was competely blank when I was on the verge of losing.
“I slowly but surely gained one point after another and fought on. My opponent was quite tense and the pressure of winning got to her. Fortunately, I won six points in a row to nick it!”
National chief coach Li Yongbo was singing the praises of his team’s great fightback.
“We knew South Korea’s first singles would give us problems and we came prepared. We never looked down on our opponents as we did two years ago and it resulted in us regaining the Cup,” said Yongbo.
“Yihan played her heart out and showed great mental strength to stay on top of her game. It is a proud day for us.”