Tokyo Paralympics: Can Bhavina Patel beat China's Zhou Ying for the first time and win gold?
Bhavina Patel has an uphill task ahead of her as she takes on 5-time Paralympic champion Zhou Ying for the elusive gold at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Ace para table tennis star Bhavina Patel is on a dream run at the Tokyo Paralympics, where she is making her debut as she will now contest for the gold medal. Taking down seasoned paddlers and former Paralympic medallists, Bhavina has shown her champion mentality for the majority part of her Tokyo campaign, having lost only one match so far. Yet, the biggest challenge still awaits the paddler from Gujarat who has confirmed a silver medal as she will have to lock horns once again against the Chinese top seed, Zhou Ying.
Zhou Ying, at 32 years of age, is a legendary figure in the Women's Wheelchair Class 4 category and has been decorated generously over the years. Bhavina, so far, has never been able to defeat the deceptive Ying and strangely enough, is yet to take a game off the Chinese in all their 7 career meetings.
Not at all promising to be an easy match, Bhavina has an incredibly tough challenge cut out for her as she takes on Ying a second time at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium during the edition of this Paralympics. Bhavina, needs to step up her game even more and hope for the stars to align if she plans on causing an upset.
A tale of numbers - Zhou Ying holds a massive edge over Bhavina
The fact that Zhou Ying, will enter the finals of the Women's Singles Wheelchair Class 4 event as the overwhelming favourite is no secret. The World No. 12 Bhavina, who was placed in the same Group A as the top seed had lost 3-0 in her group opener against Ying on Day 1 of the Tokyo Paralympics.
Ying will be coming into the gold medal contest without having lost a single match or broken much sweat and therefore will pose a difficult challenge for Bhavina who has never been able to win a single time against her - in all the 7 times they have faced off.
The 32-year-old Chinese, Zhou Ying, is extremely familiar with the Paralympics and its ways as she has been a 5-time gold medallist at the Games, a 5-time World Champion, a 5-time Asian para Games gold medallist and an incredible 10-time gold medal winner in the Asian Championships in singles, doubles and team events combined.
Meanwhile, Bhavina's list isn't that tall but it is still impressive as the paddler from Gujarat has a silver from the 2018 Asian para Games and a silver and a bronze from the Asian Championships in singles, doubles and team events, again.
While the odds are greatly steeped against Bhavina, she has been packing in stunning performances throughout. After ousting Serbia's Peric Borislava, the reigning Paralympic champion in the quarters and in the semis, Bhavina defeated the 2016 Rio silver medallist, Miao Zhang for the first time in her career in their 12th meeting to book her spot in the finals.
Having seen off the World No. 2, World No. 3 en route to the gold medal match, Bhavina will now have to face the World No. 1 and take up the gargantuan task of pushing Ying to uncomfortable positions. Given her streak so far and the momentum she is enjoying, the match can go either way but Ying is not to be taken lightly and Bhavina, if she is eying gold, has an uphill battle ahead of her.