The following observations are of course my personal view and do not claim to be the “truth”!
Here comes Han Ying (Germany), now (1.1.2015) ranked No. 9 in the ITTF yet. The following observations are derived from her quarter final match in Qatar 2012 against Chen Meng, where she lost 4:3 in a good and tight game.
She seems to have changed from long pips to short pips as far as I can judge just from videos.
- good overall physical fitness
- very choppy forehand defense
- very choppy forehand pushes/chops against pushes (one of the rare female defenders who get a lot of chop on the forehand when pushing the ball)
- good forehand block against topspin to break up the game/rhythm of the opponent
- good versatile backhand serves
- good backhand smash with the pimples on high and short pushes
- forehand defense occasionally goes up to high when confronted with slow and heavily loaded topspins. Use of the pimples on the forehand in this situation can be an alternative.
- forehand topspin always goes “round the topspins”, so producing always the same amount of backspin, this is too predictable on the long run. Also you don’t have enough time to use this technique when confronted with faster topspins.
- backhand defense often goes up too high on balls with a lot of spin which is due to taking the ball too high.
- too often playing pushes with the long pimples from the forehand side against pushes from the opponent, thus giving her numerous opportunities to come in with a big forehand topspin fast into her backhand which she often cannot retrieve
- Taking serves: She is placing herself nearly always with body weight on the right leg thus indicating the opponent that she will take on most of the serves with her backhand. This is too predictable. Has Problems when confronted with fast foreward spinning serves into her backhand
- not a great variety of forehand serves
- often has problems returning the ball low when confronted with slow block balls into her backhand.
- has no forcing ball when receiving pushes all the time down her backhand
- footwork when defending with the backhand especially on balls played into her body could improve
- forehand defense should have two variations to her standard defending. First: Chop heavy topspins hard with the arming going up and straight down (not round the topspin). Second: Learn to play deceptive floats by using the wrist and just “pressing” down the ball on heavy topspins thus producing a low ball with nearly no backspin.
- should try to take heavy topspins much lower when defending on the backhand. This way the ball comes not only back lower but also with a lot more backspin, which is especially the case when you use TSP Curl R1 as she probably does since she plays with a TSP branding on her shirt.
- Should only push with the pimps from the backhand side, not from the forehand. The opponent constantly needs to be in doubt whether she chops back the ball from her forehand side or if she spins it up.
- When taking serves she should try to place herself similar to Joo Se Hyuk, so that she can easily take most of the serves with the backhand but also directly attack long serves into her forehand or put heavy chop on the ball with her forehand.
- Should practice a variety of forehand serves she could use in an advantageous situation to attack straight away with her forehand after return. Forehand serves should in this case be done from the backhand corner, not forehand corner as she used to do.
- Serving fast by “throwing in” the ball quickly with the pimples out can be a dangerous and surprising weapon when serving at tight situation in the match.
- Should practice returning slow block balls into her backhand lower and with more precision of placement. Occasional use of the pimples in on the backhand and chopping it back could also be an alternative.
- forehand countertopspin from far behind the table could become a bit more dynamic. A heavy side spin variation here could also put the oponent in awkward position.
- should work on a recipee when confronted with pushes down her backhand all the time. Variations could be: 1. Learn to twiddle the bat and use heavy chop on the backhand too. 2. Learn to “fast lift” the ball with awkward and unpredictable spin parallel down the line into the forehand of the opponent. This ball is very tricky to play for the opponent. Neither an ordinary topspin, nor push, nor block would work here, only slowly spinny up the ball would work then, giving more opportunities for Han to attack. 3. Develop backhand topsin with a lot of spin (this is difficult, I know).