China retains Men's Team Title
Sixteenth title for China
Monday, May 01, 2006
Wang Hao gave China a superb start to proceedings by beating Oh Sang Eun in the opening match.
Wang Liqin followed suit by winning a five game contest against Ryu Seung Min with Ma Lin ending matters by overcoming Lee Jung Woo.
CHINA 3-0 KOREA
Fifteen minutes to go; Ping and Pong, the mascots entertain the crowd, the music booms over the loudspeakers, the hall is filling towards capacity.
The players wait nervously in the wings.
The master of ceremonies welcomes everyone, applause follows.
The two groups of supporters wave their national flags, we await the players to arrive.
The DJ for the event plays Magic Ball. He's from England, from Liverpool, surely he'll play music from the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers or Csilla Black?
Wonder if he's Everton or Liverpool; no Tranmere Rovers, he lives on the Wirrall; that's posh Liverpool!
Ever heard of Tranmere Rovers?
No doubt I will now get e-mails from Tranmere Rovers supporters.
It is for the player a `Moment in Time'. Oh Sang Eun can be seen slapping his face, `Wake up Oh, it's for real, it's not fantasy!'
The mind goes back to 2001 in Osaka in the semi-final of the men's team event at the World Championships; fifth game of the last match and Kim Taek Soo had a plethora of match points against Liu Guozheng to take Korea into the final. Liu Guozheng saved the lot and won.
A repeat, well Kim Taek Soo is on the bench in coaching mode and Liu Guozheng isn't here, he's been injured.
The players are introduced, the supporters cheer and applaud every name as it is announced, Olympic champions and World champions are on view.
In Bremen, it's the best of the best.
Shake hands and the music plays, let's rock!
Wang Hao (CHN) v Oh Sang Eun (KOR)
Both right handers, Wang Hao the penholders who topspins using both sides of the racket and playing closing to the table from the backhand he is devastating.
Oh Sang Eun, the class act, Mr Smooth in the way he plays, stylish from both backhand and forehand, at his best in topspin to topspin play, Asia's Vladimir Samsonov.
Wang Hao serves first, the first two points are shared; nervous times for both players.
Wang Hao moves ahead 4-2, a devastaing backhand over the table wide to the Oh Sang Eun backhand.
The speed of Wang Hao is crucial, he's proving too fast for Oh Sang Eun.
However, in his enthusiasm, he makes errors, Oh Sang Eun recovers to 6-all.
Wang Hao is determined to stay close to the table, he's determined to dictate matters, fast aggressive play, early attacks, he wins five points in a row. Game to Wang Hao.
Oh Sang Eun looks for his forehand topspin early in the rally but when Wang Hao is serving he's having problems stopping the machine gun like attacks. Can Oh Sang Eun block the attacks of Wang Hao, can he move Wang Hao out of position, can he force an error?
He's having problems, Wang Hao leads 6-4.
Oh Sang Eun must be more positive, Wang Hao is in like grease lightning at every opportunity. Coach Liu Guoliang is on his feet aplauding the young man from Changchun.
Wang Hao goes ahead 10-6. Oh Sang Eun saves two game points but the delight from the Chinese bench tells you won the next point.
Wang Hao is two games to the good.
In the third game he's in the express lane, he goes ahead 4-0, Korean coach, Yoo Nam Kyu, has no options. He calls `Time Out'.
The break works but not for Oh Sang Eun; Wang Hao goes ahead 5-0. Quite simply Wang Hao is too fast, he attacks so quickly, he's never been forced away from the table. He goes ahead 7-2; Oh Sang Eun is disconsolate, whatever he tries fails, Wang Hao wins the game 11-4 after Oh Sang Eun saves one match point.
So again it's Status Quo, `Rocking All Over The World'; Wang Hao was rocking, he rolled over Oh Sang Eun.
Wang Hao (CHN) v Oh Sang Eun (KOR)11-6, 11-8, 11-4
Wang Liqin (CHN) v Wang Liqin (KOR)
The World champion versus the Olympic champion; the right handed Wang Liqin `Mr Safety' against Ryu Seung Min `Speedy Gonzales'.
Wang Liqin plays consistently toward the backhand but the point that takes him to 4-2 raises the roof, topspin to topspin, veritable athletes in action, fantanstica!
The plan is clear, consistent topspin into the Ru Seung Min backhand and then after one or two strokes, move round and fire a forehand that penetrates the court surrounds.
For Ryu Seung Min, can he use his traditional Korean penhold style to withstand the topspins of Wang Liqin. Maybe the option is to move around the backhand and play a forehand counter topspin but that's risky.
Wang Liqin moves into a 10-7 lead; throughout the first attack has been directed to the backhand. He wins the first game 11-8.
Ryu Seung Min makes the better start in the second game, he wins thge first btwo point, he's aggressive, the forehand is in top gear, super speed, blink and you miss it. He goes ahead 4-1.
The Korean is steaming, he stands incredibly wide to the backhand to receive service, a measure of his speed.
The scores move to 6-3 in Korea's favour; Wang Liqin reduces the deficit to 7-5.then 7-6 but a weak return of serve a bullett forehand and Ryu Seung Min is 8-6 ahead.
Wang Liqin continues to attack the backhand of Ryu Seung Min, perhaps a little too safely; the Korean plays a fast backhand and wins the point, he goes ahead 9-7.
At 8-5 they loose the ball, it's stuck under the table, Yoo Nam Kyu leaves his bench and finds it stuck under the table, incredible!
Then a point of incredible proportions takes Ryu Seung Min to 10-9 with Wang Liqin a mile back from the table in downtown Bremen lobbing for his life. Ryu Seung wins the point and the next. Parity.
It's getting exciting, the two camps of supporters urge on their respective hero. In the third game Wang Liqin moves ahead 3-1, , then a fast backhand from Ryu Seung Min to the forehand of Wang Liqin reduces the arrears. The success gives Ryu Seung Min confidence. He levels.
The umpire is not happy. He shows Chen Qi on the bench the red card.
The Chinese, to their credit, don't argue, they accept the decision. Chen Qi walks off in dismay.
Wang Liqin moves ahead 7-5, both players know the next few points are crucial and both fight the point which takes Wang Liqin to 8-6 underlines that fact, incredible topspin to topspin strokes, the legs of both players bending to a 90 degree angle in an effort to exert maximum power.
Ryu Seung Min is moving so fast I nearly can't see him, he goes ahead 10-8, phenomenal footwork. He wins the third game, short serve, backspin, flicked into the net with his forehand by Wang Liqin.
Fantastic athleticism from Ryu Seung Min, he's so positive Wang Liqin has no choice than to be a little passive.
The bench rises in adulation, that's the Korean bench, as Ryu Seung Min moves ahead 3-1 and then to the dismay of the Korean nation serves into the net!
The danger for Ryu Seung Min is that adrenalin is flowing so fast, he'll try the impossible.
Wang Liqin is rock solid and is withstanding the Korean waves of attack. Wang Liqin goes ahead 6-4. He extends the lead to 7-4, then a heavy topspin by Ryu Seung Min into the body of Wang Liqin reduces the deficit to two points.
Ryu Seung Min gives a wry smile after losing the next point, he's desperate to reduce the deficit and so are the Korean supporters. He can't Wang Liqin goes ahead 9-6, then 10-7 but wait a minuute, Ryu Seung Min goes for broke. The Korean wins the next two points.
Liu Guoliang, China's men's team coach, calls `Time Out'. WAng Liqin serves, short retirn from Ryu Seung Min, Wang Liqin steps forward, backhand flick into the body of Ryu Seung Min who attempts a forehand topspin, misses, game to Wang Liqin.
The members of the Chinese team in the tiered seating stand to applayd Wang Liqin as he returns to the table.
Atacking the backhand of Ryu Seung Min, Wang Liqin moves ahead 3-1, Ryu Seung Min reduces the arrears to 3-2 and performs a lap of honour around his end of the court in celebration.
When the players change ends, Wang Liqin is 5-2 ahead. Korea call `Time Out'.
Magic ball plays, can coach Yoo Nam Kyu perform a special type of magic to help Ryu Seung Min?
Maybe? Next point to Ryu Seung Min with a fast forehand flicked winner but `Mr Safety' is also `Mr Consistency'. If Ryu Seung Min keeps blasting every ball he'll lose. He must change the spin when playing into the backhand of Wang Liqin, more variation, spin the ball, make Wang Liqin guess.
Ryu Seung Min attacks, he reduces the arrears to 8-6, then 8-7 as he fires forehand after forehand. Drama in the AWD Dome, next point to Wang Liqin, the Chinese bench rises with Liu Guoliang, the cheerleader, it's 10-7 to Wang Liqin and he's serving.
A forehand topspin rally, Ryu Seung Min gives his best but Wang Liqin wins the point, China moves ever closer what now seems the inevitable.
`Hey Baby', rings out over the loudspeaker bit still no music from Liverpool!
Wang Liqin (CHN) v Ryu Seung Min(KOR)11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7
Ma Lin(CHN) v Lee Jung Woo (KOR)
Two penholders, the left handed Lee Jung Woo and Ma Lin. The advantage is with China, they lead by two matches to nil, so as the Australians say (they are not too good at English), it's a tough ask.
Now it'll be e-mails from Australia!
But, remember, at the Panasonic China Open in 2005 Lee Jung Woo beat Ma Lin!
Waterloo beams over the speakers, for Korea is this their Waterloo?
Ma Lin prepares to serve, in typical style he fans his face with his bat, concentrates but Lee Jung Woo is of the opinion that his moment has come. Lee Jung Woo takes no prisoners, uninhibited attacking play, he goes ahead 4-1 before Ma Lin has had time the draw breath. Ma Lin takes a few gulps of Bremen air and then puts the young pretender firmly in his place. He wins the next six points before Lee Jung Woo responds.
Undaunted Lee Jung Woo keeps attacking, in style, he's the nearest thing to the coach sitting on the Korean bench, Yoo Nam Kyu, the 1988 Olympic Men's Singles champion.
Lee Jung Woo fights and fights and fights. He reduces the arrears to 10-9 with Ma Lin serving, he tries a forehand flick, it flies off the end of the table. First game to Ma Lin.
In the second game Ma Lin moves ahead 5-2 and Chinese coach on the bench, Li Xiaodong, is sent off!
Forehand attacks from Lee Jung Woo at every opportunity often forcing Ma Lin to block. Lee Jung Woo recovers to 6-5 in arrears and then levels.
An error from Ma Lin, did I sense panic? 7-6 to Lee Jung Woo.
No need to panic, Ma Lin levels, then he gets a net ball back somehow and wins the point with a rapier like forehand wide to the Lee Jung Woo forehand.
It is the watershed in the game, Ma Lin now believes. He wins the game 11-7.
Cs Lee Jung Woo and Korea produce the greatest escape of all time? Unlikely. Ma Lin goes ahead 2-0 in the third game; Yoo Nam Kyu, the Korean coach, calls `Time Out'.
It's a desperate situation for Korea.
Ma Lin now looks much more relaxed and his clever and deft changes of srvive are causing Lee Jung Woo problems.
Lee Jung Woo will fight, that's certain but he looks a little lost. He recovers to 4-all, then plays an errant forehand, 5-4 to Ma Lin, who decides he needs to tie the lace on his left shoe.
Ma Lin is moving step by step ever nearer victory, he goes ahead 7-5, Lee Jung recovers to 7-6 but on the next point the gap of two is re-instated.
A fantastic Lee Jung Woo backhand block from a Ma Lin forehand topspin, 8-7 but he can't do it again, 9-7.
Lee Jung Woo misses a forehand topspin 10-7 and it's over, a Lee Jung Woo forehand finishes in the base of the net. Ma Lin salutes the members of the Chines national squad who are standing in homage in the tiered seating.
The Koreans, well mannered as ever, wave to their supporters.
The Men's Team title is retained.
Ma Lin (CHN) v Lee Jung Woo(KOR)11-9, 11-7, 11-7
Image: Wang Hao gave China the best start possible in the final by beating Oh Sang Eun
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