Stockholm, Sweden, 13 December 2002. Young CHUAN Chih-Yuan (TPE) for a few years has been the “lonely rider” on the Pro Tour – playing almost all events, travelling on his own and without a coach. In the beginning he reached the round of the last 16 on a good day, but he just kept his head down and entered another Pro Tour event. Now he is collecting the rewards.
During the last year the 21 year old CHUAN has made immense progress – at the table and on the World Ranking. 2 years ago he was nr. 38, 1 year ago nr. 23.
Now he is in the World’s top 10 and on Friday he proved that he belongs there beating Jean-Michel SAIVE (BEL) to go to the semi-finals in Men’s Singles at the Grand Finals.
CHUAN lost to SAIVE when he reached his first Pro Tour final in Qatar this spring, but he seemed to have learnt from the defeat to the Belgian. This time he kept up the speed and tried to avoid the longer rallies where SAIVE is at his best.
CHUAN took the lead 3-1 and he also had a big lead in the 5th. SAIVE however escaped like he often does. He won the game – to go into new troubles in the 6th. Here as well SAIVE recovered and he caught CHUAN at 10-10. This time however CHUAN kept calm and he won the match taking the game 13-11.
Another youngster, WANG Hao (CHN) is also on the move. He beat compatriot and nr. 1 on the World Ranking, MA Lin, in a spectacular match which went right to the end of the 7th game.
With MA Lin’s defeat, nr. 2 on the World Ranking, Timo BOLL (GER) got the chance to close the ranking gap to MA and the German took at least one more step than MA.
Timo BOLL beat World Champion WANG Liqin (CHN) for the second time in two months (last time was at the Men’s World Cup).
BOLL seemed to be in trouble against WANG. On top of being down 3-2 the Germand also had a muscle injury in the leg which needed treatment before he could return to play the 6th game.
The massage however did him good, he actually played better than before, evened to 3-3 and took the victory in a thrilling 7th game.
BOLL’s semi-final will be against KREANGA, a rematch of the final at the European Championships. KREANGA beat Danny HEISTER 4-1.