TEAM MAZE STEMS LOSING RUN WITH 15-13 RESULT OVER TEAM JJ

Feng’s commanding victory in the final match ensures her team will not leave Round 4 win-less

JOHOR BAHRU, 22 Sept 2017 – Having been the standout team in the first half of the season, Team Maze could well have ended Round 4 of the T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC) without a win.

At the purpose-built T2Cavern at Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios in Johor Bahru, Team JJ lead Team Fixture 23 all the way to the last of the six matches, when Feng Tianwei proved simply too strong for her opponent Jeon Jihee.

Aleksandr Shibaev rediscovered his winning form with a handsome victory over Vladimir Samsonov while Tomokazu Harimoto may well have learnt an important lesson — that sometimes one may need to slow things down to break an opponent’s momentum or risk throwing away a handsome win.

Match 1: Timo Boll (GER) vs Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE)

The two battle-hardened veterans served up a delight to kick off proceedings, with Chuang very much on the top of his game in Round 4. The Taiwanese did not let Boll’s reputation cow him as he did more than match the German’s skills, winning the first set 11-8 then edging a tight second set 11-10. But Boll wasn’t going down without a fight. An 11-8 win in the third saw him pull back a set only to see Chuang produce some of his best play to take the fourth 11-4. The Kill Zone was always going to be a lottery, with fortune smiling on Boll this time as he won 5-4 to narrow the margin of defeat. Commented Jiang on Chuang’s play: “As I said before, he is such a good player. There’s speed and strength, I can watch him play all day.”

Match 2: Yang Haeun (KOR) vs Liu Fei (CHN)

Liu Fei could certainly count herself lucky to have come away with a victory but the 3-1 scoreline does not reflect how well Yang played against the Chinese chopper. Despite losing the first game 6-11, Yang turned aggressor in the second to win 11-8. The third set would be pivotal, as Yang built an 8-4 lead, and it was still looking good at 9-6 when the Korean started losing her way to eventually lose 10-11. Disheartened, Yang would also lose the shortened fourth game 1-4.

Commented Liu on losing the second set: “She played very well today and made very few mistakes, especially in the second set.”

Match 3: Aleksandr Shibaev (RUS) vs Vladimir Samsonov (BEL)

It shaped up as a battle-royale then quickly became a lop-side victory for Shibaev who finally figured out how to channel his anger into winning play. The Russian stamped his authority early to take the opening set 11-8 but Samsonov’s reply was immediate as he stormed back to take the second 11-3. Both men were content to play long rallies from way behind the table but it soon became apparent this was tiring Samsonov out more than his rival. Shibaev took the next two sets 11-7, 11-6, then added the shortened fifth game 6-4 for good measure. Certainly one of Shibaev’s better matches in T2APAC.

Said Shibaev: “The most important thing for me today was my concentration, and to focus on every ball. I just thought about fighting because I hadn’t played well in the last two matches. I felt more angry for myself and that spurred me to fight harder.”

Match 4: Miyuu Kihara (JPN) vs Matilda Ekholm (SWE)

A strange encounter between the Swedish veteran and the youngest player of this competition, as Ekholm admitted Kihara’s serves were hard to read, even for someone with years of international experience like her. Kihara took the first and third sets by identical 11-10 scores, and to Ekholm’s credit, the spirit never waned as she took the second set 11-9, then stormed to a 3-9 lead in the fourth, knowing that time would not permit a complete game to be played, and the eventual 9-7 win earned her a deserved draw.

Said Ekholm: “It was a close from the start, I was really dis-coordinated from the way she played, it was not my rhythm at all and I’m happy I managed to get two sets.”

Match 5: Chen Chien-An (TPE) vs Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN)

Give it to Harimoto, the reigning world junior champion never holds back and plays only at one speed: breakneck. Chen must be wondering what hit him in the first two sets which Harimoto took 11-5, 11-9. Credit to the Taiwanese for fighting back to take the third, and despite losing the fourth set 7-11, Chen would profit from his teenaged opponent’s hastiness in the time-shortened fifth game. Chen trailed 6-8 with 14 seconds on the clock and Harimoto didn’t even try to slow things down. The Japanese would lose the next two points, then the tie-breaker to lose the set, which would ultimately proved crucial for Team JJ.

Commented Harimoto on losing the final set: “I got a bit too excited there and made simple mistakes that let him back in. Having not player well the past two days, I am happy to be able to get back to winning ways.”

Match 6: Feng Tianwei (SGP) vs Jeon Jihee (KOR)

Team Maze trailed by a set heading into this final match with Feng highly fancied to beat jeon. But even Feng would be surprised that Jeon managed to nick the first set 11-10, especially after the Singaporean had reached game-point first. Roused, Feng upped her aggression and took command as she didn’t give Jeon a sniff in the next three games, winning 11-6, 11-4, 11-4, then dampened Jeon’s resistance in the Kill Zone set, winning 5-4 for a commanding 4-1 overall win. Said Feng: “I really wanted to win this for my team, and after losing the first set, I was even more determined to fight back in the following sets.”

Team Captains’ quotes:

“Today everybody played their normal level and it was good to have Shibaev back to his top form. Yang fought hard today and showed that Chinese players can be beaten. The team spirit today was great and we will continue to fight hard.” – Team Maze skipper Michael Maze

“We just lacked that little bit of luck today. This could well have ended in a draw, as we have done against Team Maze before. But I’m still happy with how the team played.” – Team JJ captain Jiang Jialiang

Quote of the day:
“Because I finally learnt how to receive some of her serves, so at least I could play for some of the point.” – Ekholm, when asked why she was able to build up a lead in the fourth game which she won to level the match score.

T2APAC Round 4 Team Fixture 23: Team Maze vs Team JJ

Summary:

Team Maze

Team JJ

Match 1

Timo Boll (SWE)

2

Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE)

3*

Match 2

Yang Haeun (KOR)

1

Liu Fei (CHN)

3

Match 3

Aleksandr Shibaev (RUS)

4

Vladimir Samsonov (BLR)

1

Match 4

Miyuu Kihara (JPN)

2

Matilda Ekholm (SWE)

2

Match 5

Chen Chien-An (TPE)

2

Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN)

3

Match 6

Feng Tianwei (SGP)

4

Jeon Jihee (KOR)

1*

Overall

Team Maze

2017-09-23T12:47:52+00:00 September 23rd, 2017|Press Releases & Annoucements|