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Dutch Open: Top players in last 16

Dutch Open Review

ITTF Press Releases

Russian quality

Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 25 October 2002. Russians Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR) and Aleksei SMIRNOV (RUS) have a good relationship, they understand each other.
“We have been in the same national team when the Soviet Union still existed”, SMIRNOV explains. “However he has done a bit better than me so far.”

For the first time in his career, SMIRNOV reached the semi-finals in a Pro Tour-event. That was last week in Germany, when he lost to MA Lin. Before that, the man from Samara gave his best performance at the Brazil Open this year where he got to the quarter finals.
Being a product of the former Soviet Union, SMIRNOV’s style of play is technically very good and very nice to watch. Together with his veteran companion Dmitri MAZUNOV he beat Polish doubles-specialists Lucjan BLASZCZYK/Tomasz KRZESZEWSKI to get to the last 8 in Men’s Doubles at the Dutch Open.

After going easily to 3-0 and being far better than their opponents, they almost blew it.

“We were doing very well. But then we lost concentration a bit and got nervous. Too bad, but luckily we took it home 4-2”, says SMIRNOV. “This is only the second time that Dmitri and I played together, the previous years he wasn’t playing.”

For the past four years SMIRNOV has been playing in Germany.

”That was necessary since there was no money at all in Russia. No money, no tournaments, no perspectives.”

This afternoon, SMIRNOV is playing LIU Guozheng (CHN) for a place in the last 16 of the Men’s Singles.

Dutch hopes Trinko KEEN and Danny HEISTER played one of the best matches in their doubles career but still had to shake hands as losers - 4-3 to LIU Guozheng and WANG Hao (CHN).

At the Women’s Doubles no serious surprises were recorded, except for the fact that JING Jun Hong/LI Jia Wei (SIN) lost 4-1 to GUO Yue/LI Xiaoxia from China.

Chinese top pair MA Lin and KONG Linghui easily proceeded to the next round; CHUAN Chih-Yuan (TPE) and Zoran PRIMORAC (CRO) formed no obstacle for the Chinese who are seeded second in the Men’s Doubles.

African surprise

Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 25 October 2002
Being part of asport which is mainly dominated by Asians and Europeans, Segun Toriola is a distinguished appearance on the Pro Tour. At the last 32 in the Mens Singles he lost to Zoran PRIMORAC (CRO).

“My first couple of sets were not very well, but towards the end the level got really good. Unfortunately I couldn’t turn the match around. But I am happy the way I played, PRIMORAC is at a level too high for me.”
“Before the Nigerian football team became Olympic champions in 1996, table tennis was the biggest sport in Nigeria. But now the government transfers all the money to football. That’s why we have not more players on the Pro Tour.”

This summer Toriola turned African champion for the second consecutive time. “I am the better player at the moment, but that is because too many players stay in Nigeria. They better come to Europe and develop their skills in real good competitions.”

On the other side of the hall, Dutchman Trinko KEEN recovered from his 3-0 defeat against Aleksandar KARAKASEVIC last month when Yugolsavia was playing the Netherlands. In that match he had absolutely no chance, but today he beat the risky playing Balkan man in a good match 4-1.

“It was not easy the recuperate after losing the doubles quarter finals. But it gave me and Danny HEISTER good hope, so in this match I was very confident and played really well.“ Trinko is now playing MA Lin in the quarterfinals of the Mens Singles. “Tough, I lost to him at the Pro Tour finals last year.”

Jorgen PERSSON (SWE) lost 4-1 to Danish talent Michael MAZE.

Umpires are having a hard time

Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 25 October 2002
Umpires and referees are having a hard time. The various rule changes make them paying attention to different parts of their profession. But the main focus is of course on the new service rule.

“In fact that is the main item now”, referee Michael ZWIPP (GER) says. “In the past we were watching if the player was not serving above the table. Now we are just judging whether the service is visible for the receiver. The other umpire will check if the ball touches the net.”
Dutch umpire Angelo EIKMANS points out that some players adjusted better to the new rule than others.

“Especially the women have adjusted very well, almost all of them are serving according to the rules. Also the Chinese have trained on this matter very intensely, none of them are serving against the rules.”

“It is still difficult for us, because it doesn’t matter if we see the ball or not, but if the receiver sees it when the opponent is serving.”

But still there are some players who are pushing it. ZWIPP: “Some players will always make one or two illegal services per game just to push their luck. It is important for us to cut that short, in that way we can all adjust to the new rule as soon as possible.”

BOROS hopes depend on mobile phones

Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 25 October 2002
Is Aya UMEMURA on her way to another unexpected success? The small Japanese is playing very well at the Dutch Open in the Netherlands.

UMEMURA left LI Jia Wei from Singapore absolutely confused behind in their quarter finals match. In no time the 4-0 result was on the scoreboard. UMEMURA has only lost three games in the whole tournament yet and, being 23rd on the World Ranking, seems to be on track to another sensation.
Also Tamara BOROS (CRO) was defeated quickly. In her match against Chinese LI Jia she couldn’t get hold of last week’s great form (1-4). “She was playing too defensive on the second ball”, her coach Neven CEGNAR explains, who coached her to a stunning victory in Germany last week.

“Also she has played many matches the last period, so good physiotherapy is necessary. At the moment we are in a bit difficult position, as she hasn’t got a sponsor at the moment. I have good hope she is signing a good contract with a Croatian Mobile Phone-company within the next two months.

That is good, because Croatian Table Tennis is in great financial trouble. We cannot expect much contribution from our Olympic committee either, as they have serious debts.”

The small coach is well known for his energetic walk. Nevertheless he is very realistic. “I see that in this shape you have to perform at your best to beat LI Jia. Tamara gave everything, but today was that not enough. Even though her record is good against her.”

The last 16 at the men’s: all good

Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 25 October 2002
It is often said that the semi-finals and the finals never show the best level of play. Today in the Netherlands at the Dutch Open, that theory was confirmed. The round of the last 16 showed the audience some great matches.

In front of an enthusiastic home crowd, Trinko KEEN. He got MA Lin 2-3 down, but the top seed Chinese revealed a great fighting spirit and fought back to take the match. Also for Danny HEISTER the tournament ended on Friday. Chinese WANG Hao left him without any chance: 4-0
KONG Linghui (CHN) met troubles against modest Lucjan BLASZCZYK from Poland. Both showed some great rallies, but eventually the reigning Olympic Champion won the battle.

Zoran PRIMORAC (CRO) had to take out all he had to keep off young Michael MAZE from Denmark, while Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR) had to work hard to proceed against young Magnus MANSSON from Sweden, who is no higher (yet) on the World Ranking than place 89.

“Pfff”, I was lucky”, the modest SAMSONOV sighs. “All the games were really close, I had to work really hard. He has a different style of play than the others. His backhand topspin is really solid and quick.”

Werner SCHLAGER, winner of this year’s Korea Open and Brazil Open, took over an hour to complete his victory over Koji MATSUSHITA. The one and only real defender in the men’s top was very resistant, but had to surrender eventually: 2-4.

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