Feng gains psychological advantage over Suthasini in pre-SEA Games encounter
JOHOR BAHRU, 3 Aug 2017 – Team Fixture 15 at the T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC) featured the top two teams in the standings although both were narrowly defeated in their opening Round 3 matches the previous day.
Heroism ruled the day at the purpose-built T2Cavern at Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios in Johor Bahru as Korean veteran Joo Saehyuk, battling an ailment, bravely took his place in the line-up and even stood in for team-mate Mattias Karlsson whose twisted ankle continues to mend.
The day’s main interest was the first meeting in T2APAC between the two leading women’s players in South-east Asia, and Feng Tianwei would be pleased to gain the advantage over Suthasini Sawettabut just weeks away from the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur where both are expected to have strong claims on the gold medal.
Match 1: Hina Hayata (JPN) vs Wang Manyu (CHN)
For a second straight day, Hayata faced and suffered a 4-1 defeat to a Chinese teenager. A teenager herself, Hayata knows these encounters are setting the scene for bigger occasions ahead when she would surely be facing these same players, and would need to believe that she is capable of matching them. That didn’t seem so when Wang took the first two games 11-4, 11-7. But Hayata refused to cave as she fought Wang point-for-point in the third and powered through to win 11-8. That woke Wang up as she move up another gear to take the fourth game 11-6. Hayata would rue losing the Kill Zone game which she led 4-2 before losing three straight points and the set.
Said Wang on dropping the third set: “I didn’t gain much advantage off the serve in that game and Hina tightened up her game. I’m glad I had my captain continuing to reassure me to just play my natural game.”
Match 2: Timo Boll (GER) vs Joo Saehyuk (KOR)
A wonderful match between two veterans which was hardly reflected by the final scoreline of 5-0 in Boll’s favour. In truth, the German was made to work hard by the wily Korean who did his best to tire out his opponent, returning every smash with defensive lobs from way behind the table. But the high risk manoeuvre didn’t pay off as Joo dropped the first two sets 9-11 and 8-11, then suffered an embarrassing 1-11 loss in the third. Despite that, Joo could still afford to replay a point that went in his favour in the fourth game after Boll claim the ball was wet. The magnanimity wasn’t rewarded as Joo went on to lose that game 7-11 as well as the time-shortened fifth 1-5.
Said Boll: “I know he’s carrying an injury and not 100 percent fit but a wounded animal still can bite so I took care. I had a lot of patience in my game. I don’t have a killer shot so I needed a lot of variation and to mix things up and it worked out in the end.”
Match 3: Feng Tianwei (SGP) vs Suthasini Sawettabut (THA)
Plenty of interest for this match ahead of the South-east Asian Games just two weeks away. At the same games in Singapore two years ago, it was her big win over Feng in the group stages that got Suthasini on track for a surprise singles gold. Feng did not have a good start in T2APAC but has since worked herself back into form, and she didn’t let her Thai rival settle as she took the first two games 11-4, 11-6. Suthasini picked up her game thereafter but lost her way after taking a 5-0 lead in the third set, which she eventually lost 11-6. The Thai was again ahead 9-4 lead in the fourth game but Feng fought back brilliantly to eventually win 11-10. Clearly buoyed, the Singapore player was unstoppable in the Kill Zone game which she won 5-1 to complete a 5-0 rout.
Said Feng: “I got into the match quite quickly and managed to seize control from the outset. I knew how important this match was with the SEA Games coming up. It was also good that on the two occasions when I was behind on the score, I tried a couple of new things and they worked.”
Match 4: Chen Chien-An (TPE) vs Jun Mizutani (JPN)
It has been a wild ride for Mizutani in T2APAC as the Japanese player won his first three matches, then dropped four straight before picking up a 4-1 win against Ovtcharov when both players were substitutes. Against Chen, however, the former teenage prodigy played with plenty of freedom and showed plenty of brilliance that made him one of the world’s most popular paddlers. Mizutani took the first three sets 11-8, 11-10, 11-7 before Chen finally worked out how to slow him down. The Chinese Taipei player won the fourth game 11-3 and rode the momentum in the shortened game five, managing to just keep his nose in front for a 7-6 win although losing 3-2 overall.
Commented Mizutani: “I’m glad to have won today’s match and I want to keep this going.”
Match 5: Yang Haeun (KOR) vs Bernadette Szocs (ROM)
There’s something about being on-camera that bring out the best in Szocs as the world number 60 was hardly awed by her Korean opponent ranked 40 places above her. Yang held her nerve better in the first game, coming from 8-10 behind to win 11-10. Refusing to be rattled, Szocs fought back to take the second game 11-9 but again found herself a set behind after dropping the third 7-11. The tense battle continued into the fourth game when Szocs finished strongly to win 11-8 but luck wasn’t on her side in the Kill Zone fifth game which Yang took 5-3 to complete a 3-2 victory.
Match 6: Aleksandr Shibaev (RUS) vs Joo Saehyuk (KOR)**
It couldn’t have been easy for Shibaev to stand across from Joo knowing the Korean is hobbled by an ailment. But the Russian soon found out he still needed to work hard, with victory not decided until the final point was played. Shibaev won the first set 11-10, with Joo having reached game-point first. And the Korean veteran simply refused to go away as he won the next two games by identical 11-7 scores. A tiring Joo would go 1-8 behind in the fourth game before eventually losing 3-11. But he showed plenty of resilience, fighting back from 0-3 and 2-4 down in the Kill Zone to force the game into a deciding point at 4-4 before sending the ball long for one last time.
Team Captains’ quotes:
“We fought really hard and I’m quite glad we managed to get 11 sets off Team Maze in the end. Good thing we have a rest day tomorrow, that will buy us a bit more time for our next match against Team JJ.” – Team Persson captain Jorgen Persson
“It’s not very nice that Team Persson had to deal with illness and injuries and I feel spry for them. When you see them playing it doesn’t look too obvious but before the match you could see they needed to work out who to play, who should play.” – Team Maze captain Michael Maze commiserating with Team Persson
Quote of the day:
“The players are professionals, they don’t want to lose. It’s actually easy to be captain to professional players because they do the job by themselves.” – Michael Maze
T2APAC – Round 3 Match Day 2 | Team Fixture 15: Team Maze vs Team Persson
|Team Maze||Team Persson|
|Match 1||Hina Hayata (JPN)||1||Wang Manyu (CHN)||4*|
|Match 2||Timo Boll (GER)||5||Joo Saehyuk (KOR)||0|
|Match 3||Feng Tianwei (SGP)||5||Suthasini Sawettabut (THA)||0*|
|Match 4||Chen Chien-An (TPE)||2||Jun Mizutani (JPN)||3|
|Match 5||Yang Haeun (KOR)||3||Bernadette Szocs (ROM)||2*|
|Match 6||Aleksandr Shibaev (RUS)||3||Joo Saehyuk (KOR)**||2*|
|Overall||Team Maze||19||Team Persson||11|
* denotes playing of Kill Zone game
** substitute for Mattias Karlsson (SWE)