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Ice-cool Dutch have reason to be cheerful

Jie Li
Ice-cool Jie Li of the Netherlands. David Ramos/Getty Images
Revenge is a dish served ice-cold for the Dutch duo

After Wednesday's matches, the Netherlands' Jiao Li was so tired that it took not one, not two, but six ice baths to get her up and running again.

And it seemed to do the trick as the 42-year-old mainstay of the Dutch Table Tennis team looked reborn on Thursday, not only defeating no.2 seed Jia Liu of Austria in convincing fashion in the third round, but also dominating in her performance against no.7 seed Petrissa Solja of Germany in the quarter final.

And all with a smile on her face. "There's no point in making things worse if you lose a point in a stupid way," Li said, "better just smile, relax and move on."

The Dutch had good reason to be cheerful on Thursday, as both Jiao and Ji Li reached the semi-finals of the women's singles Table Tennis in Baku Sports Hall, moving one step closer to an all-Dutch final on Friday afternoon.

"This morning I would have given you a 10 per cent chance of Jiao and Jie reaching the semifinals," coach Elena Timina said. "I think we've taken our revenge against Germany today - there are no other Germans to beat."

Jie Li had found herself facing an enormous task when, in a matter of minutes, she was 2-0 down in games.

"I was so tired today from playing so many matches the last few days," said an emotional Jie Li. "I was even thinking to myself: 'We already have a silver medal, so if I lose it's OK'. I just wanted to play a good match, but after a while I started to feel there was something more to be had."

Indeed there was: Jie Li battled her way back into contention, not even letting the loss of the sixth game after being 7-3 up put her off. She sealed the deal in the seventh and final game, putting the final scoreline at 8-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8.

By staging an impressive comeback, Jie Li proved she was just as cucumber-cool as her older team-mate and close friend Jiao.

The Dutch double should need no frosty baths tonight, since they clearly have ice flowing through their veins already. The semi-finals in Baku Sports Hall begin on Friday morning at 11:00, with the finals from 16:30.


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