Samsonov wins again, in Germany
Defeats young Ma Long German Open final
The final of the Menís Singles event at the LIEBHERR German Open saw experience versus youth, Vladimir SAMSONOV of Belarus against MA Long of China.
Vladimir SAMSONOV, the winner of eleven Menís Singles titles during his career on the ITTF Pro Tour plus one success in 1997 at the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals against the young pretender, MA Long; the young man who celebrated his seventeenth birthday on 20th October 2005 and was appearing in his first ever Menís Singles Final on the ITTF Pro Tour.
Playing in a final of a major event was nothing new to MA Long. He had won the Boysí Singles title at the World Junior Championships in 2004 and with KONG Linghui he had won the Menís Doubles title at the Panasonic China Open in September 2005.
At the Liebherr Menís World Cup in October, Vladimir SAMSONOV had looked in tremendous form until he had to play Chinese opposition; on the final day he lost to both WANG Hao and MA Lin. On that day he had a slight shoulder injury which caused him pain when he attacked with the forehand. Against European opposition at both the Liebherr Menís World Cup and at the Eurosib Russian Open he had reigned supreme but against Chinese opposition perhaps there was a question mark?
The speed of MA Long was causing SAMSONOV problems; he started the second game at express speed, looking for his forehand topspin (which incidentally KONG Linghui believes is in some need of improvement!) and established a 10-8 lead, he was never behind. SAMSONOV saved the first game point but he couldnít save the next. MA Long won the game 11-8.
The man from Belarus consistently sought to receive service with his forehand but MA Long, although faulted on his service on one occasion, kept playing positively. He remained mentally strong; he fought back and went one point ahead at 8-7. It was time to re-appraise, SAMSONOV called `Time Outí. However, the break worked in favour of MA Long, he won the next four points and the game. He was one game away from the title.
Outstanding control from the backhand saw SAMSONOV move ahead 4-1 in the sixth game, it was vintage SAMSONOV. He extended the lead to 9-3; MA Long recovered to 9-4 but no further. SAMSONOV won the sixth game 11-4; it was parity.
Initially the advice offered worked, MA Long won the next two points, the latter of which was a superb topspin exchange that kept the near five thousand strong crowd thoroughly engrossed.
The next two points were shared 8-all; then MA Long went ahead 9-8 with SAMSONOV serving. The next point went to the man from Belarus it was 9-all with MA Long to serve.
Vladimir SAMSONOV is a great sportsman and he had beaten another great sportsman.
Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR) bt MA Long (CHN) 6-11, 8-11, 11-3, 5-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9
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