TEAM ROSSI BREAKS WIN DUCK WITH 15-14 VICTORY OVER TEAM PERSSON TO KICK OFF ROUND 3
Paul Drinkhall’s maiden victory over Jun Mizutani gives Team Rossi a lift
JOHOR BAHRU, 2 August 2017 – After a near three-week absence, the T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC) resumed with Round 3 at the purpose-built T2 Cavern at Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
The opening tie would see Team Rossi finally breaking through for their very first win, having lost five and drawn one of their previous six matches.
Victory would be built on wins from Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Cheng I-Ching, Paul Drinkhall and Elizabeta Samara, although the single sets picked up by Georgina Pota and Ovtcharov, when standing in for the absent Xue Fei, are equally important, given the eventual one-point winning margin.
Match 1: Wang Manyu (CHN) vs Georgina Pota (ROM)
She may be only 18 but Wang Manyu is certainly a player to watch for the future as she celebrated entering the world top 20 with a 4-1 win over Pota. The latest monthly rankings saw Wang rising 18 spots to a new high of 14, though she didn’t look the part in losing the opening set 11-9 to 32nd ranked Pota. But the Chinese player quickly found her range to take the next three sets 11-5, 11-9, 11-4 and never really letting her opponent back in. Winning the truncated fifth game 5-3 put a gloss on a dominant performance from Wang.
Said Wang: “I told myself to bide my time as the match runs on a 24-minute clock, and just stayed focused on playing one point at a time. I’m really happy to see fans here supporting me and I hope to keep doing my best for them.”
Match 2: Joo Saehyuk (KOR) vs Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER)
An intriguing game when Ovtcharov’s physical presence and better pacing saw him winning the first three sets easily – 11-6, 11-6 and 11-7. But 37-year-old Joo then drew from his years of experience to slow the game down and draw his opponent into a rash of unforced errors, as Ovtcharov squandered a slender lead in the fourth game to lose 7-11. The German would come back from 3-0 down to win the Kill Zone game 5-3 for an emphatic 4-1 victory.
Commented Ovtcharov: “I had the clock under control, I think, and fought to win the extra point to push the match into a final Kill Zone set. I’ve not lost a Kill Zone game yet but was really lucky to keep that streak going. Am happy to be able to win four points for my team.”
Match 3: Suthasini Sawettabut (THA) vs Cheng I-Ching (TPE)
World number 8 Cheng survived a scare from her Thai opponent ranked nearly 50 places below her, despite losing the first game 11-9. It could easily have been two-up for Suthasini who fought back from 8-10 down in the second set to force a sudden death point at 10-10, only to squander the opportunity by sending her serve into the net. It was all Cheng from then on as the Chinese-Taipei player motored to an 11-2 win in game three before edging a tense fourth set 9-8 under time pressure.
Said Cheng: “I took my time to get into the game and managed to claw my way back by varying my play and also controlling the rhythm.”
Match 4: Jun Mizutani (JPN) vs Paul Drinkhall (ENG)
Mizutani would be wondering how he ended up on the wrong end of the 3-2 score especially after coming back from losing the opening set 8-11 to take the next two games 11-3, 11-10. But Drinkhall again displayed his hallmark doggedness, closing out the fourth game 11-8, having gone 10-5 up. And the Englishman would come back from 3-0 down to edge the final set 4-3 just as the 24-minute clock ran down.
Said Drinkhall: “It’s good to come back to win the match. Managed to get a net on that last point, which always helps. I think I played a great match and caught Jun possibly not on his best day. I’ve never beaten him before so this is a great confidence booster for me.”
Match 5: Bernadette Szocs (ROM) vs Elizabeta Samara (ROM)
Fans used to seeing an exuberant Szocs would be surprised to see a more subdued player in this match between two Romanians. Perhaps it was the familiarity between the two who are often training mates. But after taking the opener 11-6, Szocs allowed her older compatriot to gain the initiative as Samara won the next two 11-6, 11-10. The fourth set would be telling as Szocs worked her way to a 9-7 lead only to lose the next four points, and the game 11-9. Szoc would pick up the shortened fifth game 7-6 although it would be scant consolation for one of the standout players of T2APAC thus far.
Commented Samara: “It was an ugly match but someone has to win it. It’s always tough to play someone from your own country, and she played really well but I think I had a bit more luck.”
Match 6: Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) vs Mattias Karlsson (SWE)
On paper this should have been a straightforward win for Ovtcharov who is the highest ranking men’s player of this competition. But the German world number four couldn’t cope with his Swedish opponent ranked 20 places below him. Playing with greater intent, Karlsson simple wouldn’t allow his European champion opponent to get into stride, shooting to an 8-2 lead in the opening game, which he converted into an 11-6 win. The second game was even easier, as Karlsson thumped Ovtcharov 11-3. Ovtcharov finally found his groove in the third set which he won 11-9 but again went off-rhythm as he dropped the next two games 3-11, 7-11. There was enough time to play a Kill Zone game, which Ovtcharov would be thankful to win 5-3 to narrow the margin of defeat to 4-2.
Team Captains’ quotes:
Jorg Rosskopf: “We are very happy to finally win a match and also pick up 15 games, which is a new high for us. Hopefully we can pick up from here for the matches ahead. I’m happy with the whole team, Pota taking a set off Wang and Paul beating Mizutani. It’s change of fortunes.”
Jorgen Persson: “Considering we were trailing by some margin, I’m satisfied to have lost this tie by just the one point. My players can certainly do better, and we will be sure to stay relaxed tonight, maybe have a coffee together later and chill out at the pool.”
Quote of the day: “I didn’t play well in the first two rounds, so I thought I’d get a new haircut and give myself a fresh start.” Chinese-Taipei ace Cheng I-Ching who picked up a useful 3-1 win over Suthasini Sawettabut
T2APAC | Round 3 | Match Day 7 — Team Fixture 13: Team Persson vs Team Rossi
|Team Persson||Team Rossi|
|Match 1||Wang Manyu (CHN)||4||Georgina Pota (HUN)||1|
|Match 2||Joo Saehyuk (KOR)||1||Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER)||4*|
|Match 3||Suthasini Sawettabut (THA)||1||Cheng I-Ching (TPE)||3|
|Match 4||Jun Mizutani (JPN)||2||Paul Drinkhall (ENG)||3|
|Match 5||Bernadette Szocs (ROM)||2||Elizabeta Samara (ROM)||3|
|Match 6||Jun Mizutani (JPN)*||4||Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER)*||1|
|Overall||Team Persson||14||Team Rossi||15|
* denotes playing of Kill Zone game