Japan Open: Kreanga wins title
Japan Open Review
Sunday, September 15, 2002
ITTF Press Releases
Umemura did not make it
Lausanne, Switzerland, 15 September 2002. Aya UMEMURA couldn’t reach the ultimate goal – to win a Pro Tour title in front of her home crowd. She has already won two Pro Tour events in Women’s Singles but winning in front of the Japanese crowd would have been sweeter than anything else.
However Mihaela STEFF (ROM) was too big an obstacle for UMEMURA. The Japanese took the 1st game easily but then STEFF found out how to break UMEMURA’s fast game. The Romanian went to 2-1 and though UMEMURA evened to 2-2 STEFF did not let go. She took the next two – very close - games to take the match 4-2.
Chuan too fast for youngster
Lausanne, Switzerland, 15 September 2002. The young Chinese QIU Yuke had to surrender to the fast game of CHUAN Chi-Yuan (TPE) in the semi-final of Men’s Singles on Sunday.
CHUAN is one of the fastest moving players in the World and during the last year he has improved a lot and made a big step forward on the World Ranking (currently nr. 16). QIU, only 17 and unranked, still has to sort out how to break a player who is faster than yourself.
In the final in Japan he will find Kalinikos KREANGA (GRE) who has much more experience than the young QIU Yuke. KREANGA until now has had a great tournament, after beating Jean-Michel SAIVE in the quarters he overcame Zoran PRIMORAC in the semi-final. KREANGA had the lead all the way, and he won 4-2.
Like CHUAN also KREANGA has earlier been in one final – and lost. In few hours one of them has a Pro Tour title.
Lausanne, Switzerland, 15 September 2002. After a disappointing performance at the Women’s World Cup in Singapore, the Singaporeans JING Jun Hong and LI Jia Wei really needed a good result. They were close at the Korea Open where they reached the final in Women’s Doubles – on Sunday they got it winning the Women’s Doubles at the Japan Open.
JING and LI were seeded second, but in the final they beat the top seeds KIM Bok Rae/KIM Kyung Ah (KOR). The defensive Koreans did not even come close. They lost 4-0 – however the last game only 13-15.
KIM Kyung Ah however still has a chance for a Japanese title. Later she plays in the singles final against Mihaela STEFF.
Sweet victory for Japanese
Kobe, Japan, 15 September, 2002. Toshio TASAKI (JPN) has been in a Pro Tour final three times before, but finally his first victory came – in Japan in front of the home crowd!!!!
Toshio TASAKI, playing his fifth tournament ever together with compatriot Akira KITO, won the Men’s Doubles at the Japan Open.
“We played quite well in the final as well as in the earlier rounds where we beat strong pairs”, BOLL continues.
TASAKI and KITO got together just by “accident” - TASAKI used to play with Seiko ISEKI but he has had problems with one of his feet so the national coach of Japan looked for a new partner for TASAKI.
“I tried with several different partners before KITO – now we hope to continue together”, TASAKI says.
Zhang came back from the edge
Kobe, Japan, 15 September 2002. ZHANG Jike of (CHN) showed his technical en mental power in the Men’s Under 21 Final at the Japan Open on Sunday.
ZHANG Jike, just 14 years old, turned 0-3 down into a 4-3-victory after an impressing attacking game against the local hero Seiya KISHIKAWA.
His opponent in the final in Kobe, Seiya KISHIKAWA, 15, is one of the most promising players in Japan.
“I felt a lot of pressure playing the final, so many people were watching. When I was 0-3 down I could only try to continue to do my best. I did not think about winning, just tried to concentrate on winning one point after the other”, says ZHANG.
After six month at the national training centre in Beijing ZHANG’s goal is clear:
“I want to take part in the Olympics 2008”.
Japan has not had a World Champion since Seijo ONO won the Men’s Singles in Pyongyang in 1979. The former leading table tennis nation in the World needs a new star – Seiya KISHIKAWA has the potential.
“I felt that I was going to win but leading 3-0 I lost my focus. ZHANG, on the contrary, kept his concentration all the way”, says a disappointed KISHIKAWA.
Kim Kyung Ah likes Japan
Kobe, Japan, 15 September 2002. “It seems that Kobe is my lucky place. I won the doubles here last year, also reached the singles final in 2001, and this year I won the title”.
KIM Kyung Ah of Korea, World nr 29, was quite pleased after her final against Mihaela STEFF (ROM). Kim Kyung Ah trusted her spectacular defensive, which gave her most of the points. Only occasionally she went into counter attack. A defensive Pro Tour Champion is a rare thing.
After KIM’s 2-0 lead STEFF started to play better and she evened to 2-2. The 5th game was crucial - KIM Kyung Ah won it 14-12.
“Of course I was disappointed, especially after leading 10-8 in the 1st and then again 10-9 in the 5th. At 10-9 I hit hard four or five times, but she was like a wall”, says STEFF who got angry with herself, kicked the ball away - and got a yellow card.
STEFF had difficulties in recovering from the disappointment and in the 6th game the Romanian made some easy mistakes. KIM, 25, took the game, the match and the title.
Kreanga - finally
Kobe, Japan, 15 September 2002. Finally – after trying for so long - Kalinikos KREANGA (GRE) got his Pro Tour title.
The Greek, who was born in Romania but left for Greece at the age of 17, has been in both singles and doubles finals before but this is his first title.
“I have played well since the European Championships (KREANGA lost the Men’s Singles final to Timo BOLL (GER) - now slowly I start looking forward to the Olympics in Greece 2004”.
After being 0-2 down CHUAN Chih-Yuan came back to 2-2 winning the two games 11-9. KREANGA however went to 3-2 and in the last game the Greek got a very good start. CHUAN Chih-Yuan managed to close the gap a little but not enough and KREANGA showed his emotions with stretching both arms in the air after another rally and his first match point.
The 2000 people in the hall loved the way he made points with his backhand top spin.
“I am quite sure to hit the ball with my backhand”, KREANGA says. From outside it looks like he is taking a lot of chances but he does not make many mistakes.
“I got a little bit confused in the 4th game, my rubber was badly glued, and I did not know if I was allowed to re-glue so I continued - and how to celebrate? Actually I just need rest. Tomorrow practice and on Tuesday I play in an invitation tournament in Japan.
KREANGA takes home 15.000 US Dollars for the Japan Open title.
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