Georgina Pota’s 4-0 sweep of Liu Fei boosts Jorg Rosskopf’s team as Paul Drinkhall steps up yet again with two wins
JOHOR BAHRU, 6 Oct 2017 – Round 5 saw Team Rossi continuing their comeback, and in a massive way as they mowed down Team JJ 19-9 today at the T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC).
And again, fans at the purpose-built T2Cavern at Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios in Johor Bahru saw Paul Drinkhall make two appearances and winning on both occasions.
Cheng I-Ching had given her team a good start with her third win of the round but Team Rossi’s surge was keyed by the outstanding performance from Georgina Pota’s 4-0 victory over Chinese defensive specialist Liu Fei, which even Jorg Rosskopf admitted was quite unexpected.
Match 1: Cheng I-Ching (TPE) 3-1 Jeon Jihee (KOR) (10-11, 11-3, 11-9, 10-8)
Another win for Cheng, her third in this round, moves the Taiwanese firmly into the playoff spots. But against Jeon, she was not about to get everything her way as the Korean fought back to take the opening set. But that was all that Cheng needed to get going and she gave Jeon little chance in the second game, and played smarter in the middle exchanges to wrap up the third set as well. Jeon fought back to try and even the score but fell just a little short in the truncated fourth game.
Said Cheng: “She’s very aggressive and I’ve lost to her before in other competitions, so I made sure to make adjustments to the tempo and am glad to pick up this victory.”
Match 2: Paul Drinkhall (ENG)** 3-2 Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN) (11-10, 5-11, 11-7, 11-10, 3-4)
For a second day running, Drinkhall had to stand in for Liu and how the Englishman is revelling in this role. Both players are known throw everything into a match and this one proved no different. The three complete sets that Drinkhall won all saw the Englishman reach 10-6 and going on to win, although Harimoto did manage to force sudden-death points in two of them. Drinkhall’s additional experience certainly pulled him through this match against the Japanese teenager who still needs to work out how to break an opponent’s rhythm.
Said Drinkhall: “We both play very aggressive games which is exciting to watch. Obviously it’s quite high risk and sometimes you make easy mistakes, and I’m quite happy to come out on the right side of the score today.”
Match 3: Georgina Pota (HUN) 4-0 Liu Fei (CHN) (11-9, 11-8, 11-7, 3-1)
The look on Pota’s face said it all as the Hungarian was absolutely delighted to pick up this victory which she probably wouldn’t have expected. Until this match, Liu had been undefeated in T2APAC, conceding only a draw to Hayata. Despite nursing a sore ankle this entire round, the Chinese player hadn’t shown much weakness. Yet, Pota took the game to Liu, engaging and matching her opponent in long rallies and pouncing when it mattered. After winning the tight first game, Pota simply got better as she bossed the Chinese player about with exquisite changes of pace, fast returns and winning smashes. Liu for once simply had no answers.
Said Pota: “Normally I play ok against defensive players but today I took my time and I chose the right balls to put away. I played really good. I usually take a few points to get myself in and feel the pimples but after that I just got on with the job.”
Match 4: Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) 3-3 Vladimir Samsonov (BLR) (11-10, 9-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-2, 4-5*)
If Ovtcharov had wondered how he won his match the previous day against Chen, this time around he must be wondering how managed to let Samsonov escape with a draw. The German swarmed all over the table trying his hardest to overpower his ageing opponent and yet Samsonov hung tough, coming back to even the score every time he went behind. Ovtcharov must have sensed his opportunity when he won the fifth set easily, although the Kill Zone was as much an opportunity to win another game for his team as it was the chance for Samsonov to draw level. Fortune yet again favoured Samsonov as he edged the short set to earn an honourable draw.
Commented Samsonov: “It was a good game, Dimitrij was playing so aggressively so I had to take some risks. I’m satisfied, this draw is a very good result for me.”
Said Ovtcharov: “Today was one of my best games here in T2APAC, I was searching for the chance to take the lead but he played his best table tennis in the most important moments and that’s his quality.”
Match 5: Elizabeta Samara (ROM) 2-2 Matilda Ekholm (SWE) (11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 10-8)
This all-European encounter turned out to be highly entertaining as both players fought tooth and nail for every point. Having played each other on many occasions, both knew each other’s games well and it was no surprise that the rallies were long and scores were tight. Samara dropped off a little after taking the opening set with Ekholm coming back strongly to win the next two. And the Swede had the opportunity to win the fourth set as well, as she served at 8-9 behind only to see the ball hit the net and go out as time expired.
Commented Samara on the draw: “It was a nice game of rallies, it’s always difficult to play Matilda whose style is ‘ugly’, which I mean is unconventional and some of the shots are so unpredictable. So the draw is a good result.”
Match 6: Paul Drinkhall (ENG) 3-2 Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE) (11-7, 5-11, 11-10, 11-5, 4-2)
He calls himself the British Bulldog and Paul Drinkhall certainly showed his doggedness and tenacity as he played and won two matches for a second straight day. Against Chuang, Drinkhall had the luxury of knowing victory was already secured for this team but that didn’t stop him from going all out to secure as many sets as possible for his team. After splitting the first two sets, it was Chuang who blinked first as he squandered an 8-5 lead in the third game before losing by the narrowest of margins. Enboldened, Drinkhall would boss the fourth game before Chuang botched his serve with the clock running down and missed the opportunity to tie the score and perhaps sneak the shortened fifth game.
“Yeah I am but this is what we do, we play table tennis day-in-day-out for hours, so it’s what I love doing and the crowd and the team helped me through it.” – Paul Drinkhall when asked if he’s tired playing two matches a day on consecutive days
Team Captains’ quotes:
“Pota’s 4-0 win was unexpected and certainly the turning point of this match. Where we had expected maybe to get one or two sets, suddenly was a victory. It’s nice to see players getting a lot of self-confidence during this competition.” – Team Rossi captain Jorg Rosskopf
“I feel deflated by this result. We relied on certain players to deliver the points and when that doesn’t happen then the whole dynamics change and other players start feeling the extra pressure. It’s difficult when players struggle for consistency.” – Team JJ captain Jiang Jialiang
Quote of the day:
“Paul (Drinkhall) is our new Chinese. He won 15 sets for us in two days, it’s amazing.” – Jorg Rosskopf complimenting his English player who did double duty on consecutive days
T2APAC Round 5 Match Day 3 – Team Fixture 29: Team Rossi vs Team JJ