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Experience Counts as Top Seeded Duo Halt Pretenders to the Throne
By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

At the Brazil Open it was semi-final success for Marcos Freitas in Rabat it was defe  Photo By: Mauricio Val

07/17/2011        2011 Morocco Open Hassan II - ITTF Pro Tour (Click here to access this section)

Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus and Belgiumís Jean-Michel Saive, the respective top two seeds in the Menís Singles event at the Morocco Hassan II Open in Rabat, both emerged successful in their semi-final encounters on Sunday 17th July 2011.

Thus they booked their places in the final for a second consecutive year.

In the penultimate round matches, that saw the top four seeds in action, both Vladimir Samsonov and Jean-Michel Saive posted hard earned six games victories.

Victory Margins
Jean-Michel Saive overcame Indiaís Sharath Kamal Achanta, the no.4 seed my the margin of 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 12-10, 1-11, 11-7 to book his place in the final, after Vladimir Samsonov had recorded a similar result against Portugalís Marcod Freitas, the no.3 seed.

Executing his skills in a typically stylish free flowing manner, Vladimir Samsonov won 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8.

Same Again
Results as seeding predicted and also as past meetings advised.

Marcos Freitas had met Vladimir Samsonov on three previous occasions in World Ranking events; he had suffered in all three.

The man from Belarus was again not to be denied but it was his most severe test that the 23 year old from the Atlantic island of Madeira had presented.

Previous Duels
At the European Championships in March 2007, Vladimir Samsonov had won in four straight games, in May 2005 at the Liebherr World Team Championships Vladimir Samsonov surrendered just one game when the pair met; then earlier this year in February, it was once again a straight games victory in the second round at the German Open.

One Encounter Prior to Rabat
Tradition was maintained in Rabat as it was for Jean-Michel Saive against Sharath Kamal Achanta.

The two had met on one previous occasion, in December 2006 they confronted each other at the semi-final stage of the Menís Singles event at the Killerspin Open; in a best of five games contest, Jean-Michel Saive recorded a four games win.

In Rabat it was more testing but it was again victory.

Ever Present
Success for the higher seeded player and success as history predicted; equally it was success for arguably the two most experienced players on the ITTF Pro Tour.

Both Vladimir Samsonov and Jean-Michel Saive were present in 1996, the first year of the concept.

First Year
Jean-Michel Saive was on duty in the very first event, the English Open in Kettering; soon after Vladimir Samsonov made his debut at the Italian Open in Bolzano.

A semi-final Menís Singles exit was the lot of Jean-Michel Saive in Kettering, the top prize was to be the present for Vladimir Samsonov in Bolzano; since then, every year the two former European champions have been present on the ITTF Pro Tour and their records are prestigious.

Outstanding Record
The semi-final appearance in Rabat was no less than the 43rd of his career for Vladimir Samsonov and when he reaches the penultimate stage he rarely loses!

He has suffered defeat at the Menís Singles penultimate stage on only seven occasions.

Positive Histories
Equally, Jean-Michel Saive has an encouraging conversion record, the semi-final in Rabat was his his 20th Menís Singles ITTF Pro Tour semi-final; it was his 12th success.

Furthermore, you can add ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals if you wish; Vladimir Samsonov has appeared in four Menís Singles semi-finals, Jean-Michel Saive in three at the prestigious end of year event.

Vladimir Samsonov has a 50 per cent record of success, twice victorious, twice defeated; Jean-Michel Saive has won one of three penultimate round ITTF Grand Finals Menís Singles duel.

Different Planet
Compare the records of Vladimir Samsonov and Jean-Michel Saive with those of Sharath Kamal Achanta and Marcos Freitas and you are living on a different planet.

It was for the Indian star, his fifth ITTF Pro Tour Menís Singles semi-final and his third defeat at the penultimate stage; as for Marcos Freitas it was only his second appearance and to reach the semi-finals he has had to wait until the current year.

In June, he reached the semi-final stage in Brazil, where he beat Singaporeís Zhan Jian, before losing to Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the final.

Sharath Kamal Achanta beaten in six games by Jean-Michel Saive

Photo by Rťmy Gros



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