The 20-10 scoreline is the second-most lopsided win in T2APAC since Team Persson’s 21-8 defeat to Team Maze in Round 2
JOHOR BAHRU, 23 Sep 2017 – As the T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC) takes a 10-day break before resuming for Round 5, the last two teams in action would head away from Johor Bahru with different feelings.
A capacity crowd at the purpose-built T2Cavern at Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios in Johor Bahru saw Team Persson positively dismantling Team Rossi, which no one could have foreseen after Shi Xunyao and Cheng I-Ching started the day with a 2-2 draw.
Big wins for Jun Mizutani, Suthasini Sawettabut and Bernadette Szocs served to pad the margin of victory for Team Persson, whose skipper Jorgen Persson heads off for a holiday with a smile.
Team Rossi were left wondering how they were able to win just one of the six matches in this tie as their chances to make the finals continue to dim.
Match 1: Shi Xunyao (CHN) vs Cheng I-Ching (TPE)
An intriguing match-up to start the day with 16-year-old Shi bouncing back from losing to Ekholm last up to take the first two sets 11-6, 11-7. Shi, the 2016 World Junior Champion, didn’t look out of place against her Taiwanese opponent who is nine years. And it was Cheng’s added experience that brought her back into the game as she varied her tactics to jump to a 10-3 lead in the third set before winning 11-7. Shi didn’t adapt to the change in tempo and was behind 7-8 in the fourth game when time ran out, with the match ending in honours even 2-2.
Said Cheng: “I started a bit too anxious and didn’t take care of the details well. There’s a sizeable audience today and they were supporting me and I really wanted to put on a show for them. I was glad to be able to tough out the final set and secure the draw.”
Match 2: Jun Mizutani (JPN) vs Liu Dingshuo (CHN)
Plenty of question marks about Mizutani who had lost to Boll 3-1 and Chuang 5-0 in his previous Round 4 matches but the Japanese answered his critics with a masterful dismantling of 19-year-old Liu. For four sets, Mizutani made the 2015 World Junior Champion from China look like a novice, often quicker to the draw and always staying out of reach. After winning the first four sets 11-9, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6, it was down to the shortened fifth game where Mizutani had a mind blip and squandered the opportunity for a clean sweep. Coming back from a time-out 3-4 behind in the set with seconds on the clock, Mizutani saw his service hit the net for a let, and the buzzer went just as he was shaping up to serve again. In truth, a 5-0 sweep would not have looked out of place.
Commented Mizutani on the final point that didn’t happen: “It was a surprise to me when the buzzer sounded. I wasn’t looking at the clock. I did a short service and it was unlucky that it hit the net. I was determined to play better today after not doing well in the last two matches.”
Match 3: Suthasini Sawettabut (THA) vs Elizabeta Samara (ROM)
Having missed her last match due to a neck strain, it was good to see Samara back on the table although Suthasini was not about to be charitable. The Thai has shown good form this round and is never short of endeavour, and she quickly went 2-0 up after winning the first two sets by identical 11-9 scorelines. The third set would prove just as tight as Samara fought back to bring the game to a sudden death point, but still lost 10-11. The Romanian worked her way to a 9-5 lead in the next game and made that stick, winning 11-9. Both players were neck-and-neck in the Kill Zone set, which Suthasini won 5-4 with a brave service return winner.
Sad Suthasini: “I kept my focus on the game and it was good to come away with this win. It was also very exciting to play in front of such a big crowd.”
Match 4: Joo Saehyuk (KOR) vs Paul Drinkhall (ENG)
A thoroughly entertaining match that ebbed and flowed as Joo dug deep into his bag of tricks to subdue Drinkhall for a second time, again a 3-2 win over the Englishman, and again decided by a Kill Zone game. Drinkhall took the game to the Korean, a typical late flourish winning him the first set 11-9. Joo stormed back in the second, never relinquishing a mid-game lead to win 11-7. Joo eased off in the third, when Drinkhall built on a mid-game advantage to take the set 11-6. Joo turned up his aggression in the fourth to build an 8-2 lead but saw his opponent fight back to 10-9 before winning 11-9. Heeding his captain’s advice to stay aggressive, Joo duly delivered in the Kill Zone, going 3-0 up before winning 5-2.
Said Joo: “Drinkhall is a difficult opponent for me as he knows how to play against defensive players. It doesn’t surprise me that both our matches so far has been settled by the Kill Zone.”
Match 5: Bernadette Szocs (ROM) vs Georgina Pota (HUN)
Szocs continues to shine on the T2APAC stage as she despatched her fellow European Pota 5-1, although she also nearly became the first player in this league to lose a set 11-0. That was in the fourth game which Pota led 10-0 before Szocs won her first point. The Romanian had earler won the opening two sets 11-9, 11-10, and a lengthy technical interruption did not stop her from winning the third game 11-9. She would come back from 4-7 behind in the fifth game to win 11-9. There was still two seconds left on the clock, which was enough for a Kill Zone game to be called. While both teams welcomed the opportunity for an extra point, it was to Team Persson’s benefit as Szocs also won that one 5-3.
Said Szocs on avoiding losing 11-0 in the fourth game: “She played it all on the table and I didn’t play well at all. But after that I went back to full concentration because I knew I had the chance to win more points for my team, and it turned out to be two more points.”
Match 6: Mattias Karlsson (SWE) vs Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER)
It was left to Ovtcharov to salvage some pride for his team and the German had to come back from the brink to edge his Swedish opponent 3-2. Karlsson certainly looked in the zone winning the first and third sets 11-10, 11-4 while dropping the second 5-11. The fourth game would prove crucial as the Swede failed to convert a 9-5 lead, with Ovtcharov fighting back to edge the set 11-10. With momentum on his side, Ovtcharov dominated the shorted fifth set, winning 6-1.
Said Ovtcharov: “It’s actually my first victory over Mattias who’s improved a lot in the past year. We don’t have too many short pimple players to practice against, and he’s a smart player. So I’m glad to be able to steal this match.”
Team Captains’ quotes:
“I didn’t expect this result as Team Rossi have played well this round. It’s a really positive result, we had a rest day and it seemed it was very good for the team, especially for Jun (Mizutani) who came back strong after struggling all this week.” – Team Persson captain Jorgen Perrson
“We only won one match and that was Ovtcharov who was down 2-1, 9-5 as well. I don’t know, maybe the day off didn’t work out well for us after all. But we keep on fighting.” – Team Rossi captain Jorg Rosskopf
Quote of the day:
“Win for Korea and we go for Korean barbeque tonight.” – Jorgen Persson giving unusual incentive to Joo Saehyuk during the Kill Zone decider. Joo duly delivered.
T2APAC Round 4 Team Fixture 24: Team Persson vs Team Rossi
|Team Persson||Team Rossi|
|Match 1||Shi Xunyao (CHN)||2||Cheng I-Ching (TPE)||2|
|Match 2||Jun Mizutani (JPN)||4||Liu Dingshuo (CHN)||1|
|Match 3||Suthasini Sawettabut (THA)||4||Elizabeta Samara (ROM)||1*|
|Match 4||Joo Saehyuk (KOR)||3||Paul Drinkhall (ENG)||2*|
|Match 5||Bernadette Szocs (ROM)||5||Georgina Pota (HUN)||1*|
|Match 6||Mattias Karlsson (SWE)||2||Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER)||3|
|Overall||Team Persson||20||Team Rossi||10|
* denotes playing of Kill Zone game