Samsonov retains Croatian Open Title
Beats Chen Qi in final
Vladimir SAMSONOV of Belarus retained his Men’s Singles title at the Liebherr Croatian Open on Saturday 28th January 2006 when, in a final that went the full seven games distance, he accounted for China’s CHEN Qi to capture the crown.
Twenty-nine year old SAMSONOV beat CHEN Qi 4-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9.
It was the second time in a World Ranking event that Vladimir SAMSONOV had played CHEN Qi and it was the first time he had won, on the only previous occasion that they had met, the last sixteen of the Men’s Singles event at the German Open in 2003, the China star had prevailed in six games.
The match reflected CHEN Qi’s ability to play like a wave, sometimes at the crest sometimes surfing below; the Chinese star went ahead, SAMSONOV levelled, the patter continued and at three games all it was parity. A decisive seventh was needed.
“He got back to 7-6 so I decided to take a `Time Out’ I needed to collect my thoughts”, explained SAMSONOV; the break halted the momentum of CHEN Qi, it worked in favour of SAMSONOV and he went ahead 9-6. “They weren’t special or memorable points and it was becoming a very nervous game”, continued SAMSONOV. “I made mistakes retuning his service and he played very well.”
It was match point to SAMSONOV. “Again on the next point he served with backspin, I returned short and he made a mistake with his first attack” said SAMSONOV. “I’d won, just”
CHEN Qi did play at a high level and he did make mistakes but it was a superb match to conclude the tournament and the crowd had a hero. “He had tremendous support, it was like a football match”, said Senesa BOZIC who throughout the tournament had done a splendid job in the media centre. “They love him her”, BOZIC continued. “He thanked everyone in Croatian `hvala-svema’ and told everyone that he looked forward to 2007 when Croatia would host the World Championships.”
The crowd’s favourite was the champion, he had beaten three Chinese en route, MA Long, HAO Shuai and CHEN Qi; in Ličge in October 2005 at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup he had played extremely well on the first two days but on the final day had lost to both WANG Hao and MA Lin. On that day against Chinese players he looked vulnerable but to be fair to SAMSONOV he did have a slight shoulder injury.
At the Liebherr Men’s World Cup the two Chinese players appeared to be too fast for SAMSONOV but in Zagreb he beat two of the World’s fastest players, RYU Seung Min and CHEN Qi. He proved that against those who rely on speed he is more than a match.
In Zagreb, Vladimir SAMSONOV gained in confidence, he retained his title and for the second consecutive year he was Men’s Singles champion Liebherr Croatian Open.
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