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German Open: Victory but at a Price

German Open Review

ITTF Press Releases

Chinese Teenagers At The Double

Magdeburg, Germany, 17 October 2002. The newly crowned Chinese Women’s Doubles Champions, GUO Yue and LI Xiaoxia of China (the youngest ever winners of a Chinese national title) emerged successful in the qualification stages of the Women’s Doubles at the German Open in Magdeburg but they certainly didn’t have matters their own way.

The Chinese duo had to recover from a 2-0 deficit against the French pairing of Anne-Sophie GOURIN and Solène LEGAY before establishing their authority on proceedings to emerge victorious. Both Chinese girls adopt the shake hands grip, use reverse rubber on both sides of the racket with the left handed Guo Yue and the right handed Li Xiaoxia able to dominate rallies with strong forehand topspin strokes.
Not to be outdone by their colleagues, the defensive pairing of WANG Tingting and FAN Ying combined to good effect to qualify for the main event with victory over Japan’s AN Konishi and KEIKO Okazaki; the Chinese pairing creating an impenetrable `Great Wall’ that few would overcome.

Meanwhile, a highly seeded position in the Men’s Singles might be the order of the day for Vladimir SAMSONOV of Belarus and Jean-Michel SAIVE of Belgium but in the Men’s Doubles players of the highest standard have to earn the right to compete in the main event. The duo who both play in Belgium for Royal Villette Charleroi completed the mission successfully but had to recover from an opening game reverse in the 3rd qualification round against the Danes Martin MONRAD and Finn TUGWELL to earn their spurs and a place in the main draw.



A Sense of Inevitability

Magdeburg, Germany, 18 October 2002. The word “composure” comes immediately to mind; whatever the crisis; however difficult or hopeless the situation may appear she remains calm seemingly aware that she can raise her game to another level and that whatever the crisis her technique will withstand any pressures to which she is exposed.

Like a Rolls Royce waiting to join the motorway and then purring into overdrive, the newly crowned Chinese National Women’s Singles Champion, LI Xiaoxia, started nervously in the opening round of the women’s singles event at the German Open against Europe’s brightest young female hope Georgina POTA of Hungary but once in top gear a sense of inevitability was manifest as the fourteen year old girl from Liaoning accelerated into the highest gear to win in seven games.
Trailing by three games to nil and 9-10 in arrears LI Xiaoxia showed no signs of panic or emotion; one step away from an early exit she composed herself, waived the racket a fan to cool the face; prepared slowly, executed a heavy backspin service and then released a backhand topspin `down the line’ to leave POTA gasping in admiration. Earlier in the encounter, there had been several unforced errors from the backhand but when it counted, when it really mattered, when there was no other option it went on like a guided missile honed clearly on its target. Similarly, the next two points were played with authority and from the brink of defeat LI Xiaoxia had a lifeline.

POTA gave her best, she is a delight to watch; well mannered, a sportswoman in the true sense of the word she continued to attack quickly as she had done with great success in the first two games; only now the situation was different. LI Xiaoxia answered fast attacks with topspin returns and as though using the first three games to adjust to jet-lag and acclimatize herself to the conditions she moved into the fast lane and smoothly asserted herself on proceedings.

Throughout, LI Xiaoxia is well balanced, she moves well, has a quick arm action from the forehand and possesses a powerful backhand. `She is very powerful. Her backhand attack is very strong and during rallies she places the ball very well, explains Guo Yue, the player with whom she won the women’s doubles title at the recent Chinese National Championships.



Torres The Toreador

Magdeburg, Germany, 18 October 2002. Spain’s Daniel TORRES excelled all expectations to oust China’ HOU Yingchao in the opening round of the Men’s Singles, beating the Beijing number one in five games to book a place in the second round against Patrick CHILA of France; the latter ousting Sweden’s Magnus MOLIN in a match that went the full distance.

HOU Yingchao is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading backspin players and a delight to watch; he is a `modern day’ defender, able to impart backspin on the ball with both backhand and forehand whilst also possessing a devastating forehand topspin.
`Normally I’m comfortable against defensive players,’ explains TORRES as he sits soaking up the moment with sweat dripping from his forehead. `He uses short pimples on the backhand, so you have to be very careful and alert as he’s always changing the spin on the ball, I concentrated on playing the first ball to his backhand so that he could not play his strong forehand topspin,’ continues TORRES. Equally, the Spaniard was comfortable against HOU Yingchao’s service, he made few errors on the return and prevented the Chinese international from attacking the third ball and thus was able to force his adversary into defensive mode.

However, Koji MATSUSHITA did keep the flag flying for the defensive artists in the opening round of the men’s singles beating the host nation’s David DAUS but for Daniel TSIOKAS of Greece it was farewell with the penhold grip attacking player, Toshio TASAKI ended progress in straight games.




Mihaela’s Misery

Magdeburg, Germany, 18 October 2002. The German Open and Mihaela STEFF just don’t seem to go together; a year ago in Bayreuth it was the relatively unknown Hungarian Petra LOVAS who halted progress whilst twelve months later the talented Romanian made an early exit losing to Slovakia’s Eva ODOROVA in seven games.

`She can play very well’, explains ODOROVA. `I led by three games to one but then she fought back and levelled at three games each; you always know that she can play some incredible table tennis; so you never know what might happen in the final game’.
Certainly, STEFF is high risk player and leading 8-6 in the decider, the winning post was in sight but the more consistent ODOROVA maintained her focus and with STEFF attempting fast topspin winners, errors ensued and the Slovakian booked her place in round three where 14 year old GUO Yue of China awaits.

Meanwhile for LOVAS quite the reverse is true. One year after ending the hopes of Mihaela STEFF, the Hungarian reached round three having beaten Germany’s Tanja HAIN-HOFMANN and Austria’s LIU Jia en route to round three. `It’s my lucky tournament, I returned serve well today and I don’t think my opponents liked my style of play’, explains LOVAS.

Undoubtedly a fine performance by LOVAS; especially when you consider that she doesn’t like playing games to eleven points and would much prefer to play to twenty-one!




A Klasek Performance

Magdeburg, Germany, 18 October 2002. Marek KLASEK of the Czech Republic caused the major upset in the opening round of the men’s singles event at the German Open by beating WANG Hao of China by the narrowest of seven game margins.
WANG Hao, winner of the Egypt Open earlier in the year found the Czech player in top form and in a match full of exciting topspin exchanges it was KLASEK who upset the formbook to reserve a place in round two against the young Dane, Michael MAZE.

`It was important that I got a good start against WANG Hao’, explains KLASEK. `I won the first two games, lost the third but won the fourth; that gave me confidence and in the seventh game it was always fifty-fifty, I knew I had a chance.’ Certainly, KLASEK took his chance and followed his service with vicious topspin strokes. `WANG Hao’s forehand is very good, there’s a great deal of spin on the ball so it’s difficult to return; it was very important that I was the first to topspin,’ KLASEK concludes.
Meanwhile, seconds after KLASEK had won his epic battle the Magdeburg crowd had more reason to cheer with Germany’s Bastian STEGER overcoming former European men’s singles champion Peter KARLSSON (SWE) in a contest that went the full distance and kept the crowd on the edge of their seats.

`It’s really great to win in front of a German crowd,’ says an elated STEGER. `I think it must be the best result of my career, I’m absolutely delighted; I tried to use my forehand more, I like to use my backhand but sometimes I play too many backhands and I suffer the consequences.’

STEGER now faces Damien ELOI of France, the victor over Germany’s Zoltan FEJER-KONNERTH.

`Normally I’m comfortable against defensive players,’ explains TORRES as he sits soaking up the moment with sweat dripping from his forehead. `He uses short pimples on the backhand, so you have to be very careful and alert as he’s always changing the spin on the ball, I concentrated on playing the first ball to his backhand so that he could not play his strong forehand topspin,’ continues TORRES. Equally, the Spaniard was comfortable against HOU Yingchao’s service, he made few errors on the return and prevented the Chinese international from attacking the third ball and thus was able to force his adversary into defensive mode.

However, Koji MATSUSHITA did keep the flag flying for the defensive artists in the opening round of the men’s singles beating the host nation’s David DAUS but for Daniel TSIOKAS of Greece it was farewell with the penhold grip attacking player, Toshio TASAKI ended progress in straight games.




Down To Earth

Magdeburg, Germany, 18 October 2002. It was a return to earth for two of the players who had caused shocks in the opening round of the men’s singles at the German Open.

Bastian STEGER (GER) having beaten Swede Peter KARLSSON in the opening round was brought firmly down to earth by Damien ELOI of France, the young German losing in four straight games; meanwhile, a similar fate befell Marek KLASEK, the player from the Czech Republic who had earlier beaten WANG Hao (CHN) found Denmark’s Michael MAZE in scintillating form and a straight games defeat was the order of the day.
`I expected to play WANG Hao,’ explains MAZE. `He’s simply getting better and better in each tournament but Marek KLASEK is a fine player; I think I played tactically well against him; certainly he played very well earlier today’.

Meanwhile, Belgium’s Jean-Michel SAIVE booked a place in the third round by beating Trinko KEEN of the Netherlands with the Belgian star giving a typical fighting performance to secure victory. In the next round he faces Damien ELOI of France with the winner scheduled to meet defending champion Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR)in the quarter-finals proved he can negotiate a safe route past the in form Michael MAZE in round three.




Victory but at a Price

Magdeburg, Germany, 18 October 2002. To the delight of the German crowd, reigning European champion Timo BOLL came through the second round of the men’s singles event at the German Open with victory over China’s YAN Sen in five games.

However, leading 6-2 in the fifth game the German star, attempting to topspin a short ball with his forehand, caught his elbow on the edge of the table causing an open wound to appear and medical help necessary. BOLL was able to complete the match successfully against YAN Sen but has withdrawn from the men’s doubles and is currently receiving treatment from the team doctor.
Dirk SCHIMMELPFENNIG, the German coach, is optimistic that BOLL will be able to continue in the event. `He doesn’t play until 14.30 on Saturday so he has some time to recover,’ explains SCHIMMELPFENNIG. `The wound is not the problem but the arm is swollen and bruised around the elbow, it shows how hard he hit the table, the doctor says he has a good chance of playing, undoubtedly it will still hurt, but I’m very hopeful that he can continue.’

Certainly, the crowd will be hoping that BOLL can play, a good performance from him will certainly give the tournament a major boost with BOLL the only German player left in the men’s singles.

 


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