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First Ever All European Final

ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals

The final ITTF Pro Tour tournament of the year had been the Liebherr Swedish Open in Gothenburg.

The two players who had contested the final were Germanyís Timo BOLL and Belgiumís Jean-Michel SAIVE.

In Fuzhou, the two were once again the protagonists in the final; the prize at stake a Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet car and the title, Menís Singles champion, Volkswagen Pro Tour Grand Finals 2005.

History
Furthermore, it was an historical event in the history of the ITTF Pro Tour, it was the first time that European players had faced each other in any final since the competition started in 1996; in every previous final, whether Menís Singles, Womenís Singles, Menís Doubles or Womenís Doubles, Asian players had been present.

BOLL, the number two seed started as favourite in the final and in the opening game he justified the billing. He won 11-6.

German Ahead
Time and again BOLL forced SAIVE back from the table, the rallies were exciting as SAIVE in typical style chased every ball; it was entertaining, the crowd loved the way SAIVE tried to retrieve but it was German coach Richard PRAUSE who had cause to celebrate, as the points went the way of BOLL. In the second game BOLL went ahead 5-3, SAIVE giving BOLL a dose of his own medicine forced BOLL away from the table to reduce the arrears to 6-5 and then with adrenalin flowing levelled at 6-all.

SAIVE won the next point, 7-6 ahead but BOLL won the next four with any fortune going his way to move to 10-7; the Belgian hero saved the first game point but not the second, as he attacked wide to the BOLL forehand and at the end of a fierce rally aimed his attack just that centimetre too wide.

Error Free
BOLL was maintaining the form he had displayed at the Liebherr Menís World Cup in October; he was playing virtually error free. Attacking with his forehand at every opportunity, concentrating on the SAIVE backhand as the Belgian star was forced to retreat;, he went ahead 5-3. The scores progressed to 9-7 in favour of BOLL who won the next point with an un-returnable net cord and the next when SAIVE erred with the backhand to win the game 11-7 and be one away from the title.

SAIVE had a mountain to climb and the mountain became even higher when BOLL went into a 2-0 lead in the fourth game; the Belgian hero levelled at 2-all but serving BOLL re-took the lead winning both points on the service to move ahead 4-2. Every point was being won by the player serving, SAIVE recovered to 4-all and then broke the pattern to go ahead 5-4. The German levelled but the next two points went to SAIVE, he was ahead 7-5. BOLL recovered to 7-all, SAIVE went ahead 8-7 then fortune for BOLL as the ball clipped the net and trickled over, 8-all.

Reprieve
The Belgian star looked to the heavens wondering what he had done to deserve such a fate; the scores progressed to 9-all with SAIVE serving. He went ahead 10-9, he had a chance for a reprieve and in seconds he was celebrating, he won the point, won the game and had reduced the arrears.

Confident, SAIVE won the first three points of the fifth game before BOLL replied; again fortune for BOLL as he reduced the arrears to 2-3 and then with SAIVE back on the ropes he levelled at 3-all. BOLL went ahead 5-3. SAIVE called `Time Outí, BOLL was accelerating, a re-appraisal was needed.

Title & Car
The players returned, BOLL was totally focused; he went ahead 8-4 and was within site of victory. He moved ahead 9-4, SAIVE recovered to 9-5, then BOLL had match point. He only needed one chance; he forced SAIVE back to the court surrounds, won the point, celebrated and was the proud owner of a Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet.

Timo BOLL (GER) bt Jean-Michel SAIVE (BEL) 11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5

Image: Timo BOLL, the Men's Singles champion at the Volkswagen Pro Tour Grand Finals

Source: ITTF

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