Karlsson wins Italian Open

Italian Open Update

ITTF Press Release:

Courmayeur, Italy, 5 May 2002. Sometimes you can watch a player and you have this feeling that he knows that “this is his tournament”. It was like that with Peter KARLSSON (SWE) at the Italian Open, at least after he survived the first rounds.

In the semi-finals he beat CHANG Yan-Shu (TPE) 4-0 and in the final he gave Zoran PRIMORAC (CRO) the same lesson.

“I just played better and better for every match I won, and what concerns the semi-finals and the final I can’t do much better than that!”, says the new Italian Open Champion.

“I decided to be very aggressive to push PRIMORAC backwards, and it is just such a good feeling when you play well enough to do exactly what you have planned”, says the Swede.

PRIMORAC had the lead in the 2nd and the 4th game, but KARLSSON was just too determined not to let the title and the 15.000 US Dollars slip away.

This year the Pro Tour Grand Finals will be in Stockholm, and with the Italian title KARLSSON took a big step towards the finals.

New Hong Kong player wins Women's Singles

Courmayeur, Italy, 5 May 2002. LIN Ling came to Italian Open as a Hong Kong player after changing from mainland China to Hong Kong. In her first tournament as a Hong Kong player she took home the title and a first prize of 10.000 US Dollars for Hong Kong.

In the final LIN Ling met one of her new team mates LAU Sui Fei, but LIN never left any doubt. Her game was the most consistent and she won 4-0.

“Of course I am happy to win this first tournament for Hong Kong. Though I moved to Hong Kong table tennis is still first priority for me. Sooner or later I will meet the Chinese team. I am looking forward to that – and I want to win”, says LIN Ling.

A Taste for Doubles

Courmayeur, Italy, 5 May 2002. Hong Kong players seem to have a special taste for doubles. Hong Kong was represented in both men’s and women’s doubles finals on Sunday and even though the players are far from the world top on the singles ranking they play a world class doubles game. In Italy the result was one Hong Kong title.

It came in men’s doubles where LI Ching and KO Lai Chak met the young Germans Lars HIELSCHER and Bastian STEGER who ousted the world top pair CHIANG Peng-Lung/ CHAN Yen-Shu (TPE) in the semi-finals.

LI and KO already have one Pro Tour title – from Egypt – but the Germans got valuable experience when they reached the team’s final at the European Championships in Zagreb few weeks ago.

Every game was close. The Germans had the lead 2-1 and again 3-2 and they even had 8-6 in the 6th game. Somehow they lost their rhythm though and the Hong Kong pair evened to 3-3.

In the last decisive game KO and Li went to 9-3 and the young Germans never recovered from that. The Hong Kong pair took the game and the match 11-5 to win their 2nd Pro Tour title.

The young Germans however could have a bright future if they stay together.

“Yes, we might have some potential. In the semi-finals we played excellent. In the final we also played well, but we made some expensive unforced errors. We really had the chance so right now we are extremely disappointed, but when we go back we’ll have to discuss with our coaches if we should try to stay together”, says Lars HIELSCHER.

In women’s doubles TIE Yana/SONG Ah Sim (HKG) met the mixed pair RYU Ji Hye (KOR) and Aya UMEMURA (JPN) who normally don’t play together.

The first games were close – RYU/UMEMURA won the 2nd game 20-18 to go to 1-1. Then they went to 3-1 and even though the Hong Kong pair took one more game RYU/UMEMURA looked like winners all the way. They won 4-2.

Prefect Tactics

Courmayeur, Italy, 5 May 2002. Swede Peter KARLSSON played a perfect match to oust CHANG Yen-Shu (TPE) and reach the final in men’s singles at the Italian Open.

The first 3 games were close but KARLSSON took them all and in the 4th CHANG had lost faith. KARLSSON played with sharp angles to make CHANG run from corner to corner and with varied speed he confused the Taipei Chinese.

“You could say that I knew exactly how I wanted to play him, and today I played well enough to do it”, says Peter KARLSSON.

“I like playing against penholders because I can get the sharp angles that force them to move more than they like”, says the Swede who came to Italy as a European Team Champion. Now he might also become an Italian Open Champion.

In the final he faces Zoran PRIMORAC (CRO).

The other semi-final was also a meeting of European style and penholder style.

LEUNG Chu Yan (HKG) was up 2-0 against Zoran PRIMORAC before the Croatian found out how to play him. PRIMORAC came back to 2-2 just to see LEUNG go to 3-2 in a thrilling 5th game. Both players had several game points before LEUNG won it.

PRIMORAC won the 6th game easily to take the match to the last decisive game. That was easy as well. Now the Croatian returned the services from LEUNG very well and he went to 5-1. LEUNG recovered but he never caught PRIMORAC.

European Hope Out

Courmayeur, Italy, 5 May 2002. The last European hope in women’s singles Mihaela STEFF (ROM) had to surrender in the semi-finals. Against LAU Sui Fei (HKG) the Romanian simply made too many unforced errors.

STEFF won the 1st game but then LAU went to 3-1 before STEFF found her game again. It was 3-2, but again in the 6th game STEFF started to make too many errors, and symbolically the match finished when STEFF at 8-10 sent an easy high ball into the bottom of the net.

LI Jia Wei (SIN) had a good chance to get in control in her semi-final in women’s singles against LIN Ling (HKG) but missing her one chance she lost confidence and LIN Ling won the expected victory.

LI Jia Wei won the 1st game and had 11-10 in the 2nd. Then she missed a quite easy forehand topspin and LIN Ling took the game. That was the turning point of the match. After that LI Jia Wei never really believed she could win.

LIN Ling in many rallies took the speed out of the game and having to “create” the rally LI Jia Wei made easy mistakes. LIN took four games in a row to win the match.

The final between the two Hong Kong players LAU Sui Fei and LIN Ling is played later on Sunday.

Young Germans in Final

Courmayeur, Italy, 4 May 2002. The young Germans Lars HIELSCHER and Bastian STEGER got valuable experience at the European Championships in Zagreb few weeks ago where the German team reached the final.

At the Italian Open the two youngsters proved that they are moving forward. In the semi-finals in men’s doubles they beat the World top pair CHIANG Peng-Lung/CHANG Yan Shu (TPE).

The Taipei Chinese won the 1st game “as expected” but then the Germans took over. HIELSCHER’s all round game and STEGER’s devastating backhand topspin took the confidence out of CHIANG and CHANG and the Germans are now ready for the final.

“STEGER und HIELSCHER were returning very good keeping the Taipei pair away from using their strong forehand attack. Tactically they both played excellently, you could see that they know each other from playing together in the Bundesleague”, says German coach Istvan Korpa.

In the final they will meet LI Ching/KO Lai Chak (HKG) who overcame their compatriots CHEUNG Yuk/LEUNG Chu Yan in the semi-finals.

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