Ma Long ended European hopes by beating Alexey Smirnov
Photo By: Kurt Bartuschek
2011 Austrian Open - ITTF Pro Tour
Seeding suggested that Ma Lin, Zhang Jike, Ma Long and Xu Xin would emerge successful at the quarter-final stage of the Menís Singles event at the Austrian Open in Schwechat on Saturday 24th September 2011.
The prediction was correct.
Furthermore, only one of the quartet was severely tested in the round of the last eight and that was when facing a compatriot; a measure of Chinese excellence.
Yet again the table tennis super power exerted its authority; yet again those from foreign shores were taught severe lessons.
Xu Xin Mounted Recovery
Xu Xin, the no.7 seed, was extended the full seven games distance by Hao Shuai, the no.13 seed, who one round earlier had unceremoniously beaten his team mate, Wang Hao in the quarter-finals.
Success came the way of Xu Xin but he had to recover from a three games to one deficit to secure victory; he won 4-11, 11-6, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4.
One Previous Meeting
A victory as seeding predicted but not according to history; the two had met once before in world ranking events.
In February 2009 they faced each other at the quarter-final stage of the Menís Singles event at the Qatar Open in Doha; on that occasion Hao Shuai won in five games, in Schwechat, Xu Xin extracted revenge.
Ma Lin Ends Korean Hopes
Certainly a hard fought win for Xu Xin; undoubtedly his compatriots had to work hard and be totally focused to succeed but none was ever in serious danger of defeat.
Ma Lin, the no.2 seed, beat Koreaís Oh Sang Eun, the no.11 seed in four straight games (11-7, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7) and maintained his advantage over the tall stylish man from Seoul.
It was the 12th victory recorded by Ma Lin over Oh Sang Eun in world ranking events; furthermore in the past eight years, Ma Lin has been virtually totally dominant.
Since losing to Oh Sang Eun in September 2003 in the Menís Singles event at the Japan Open, he has suffered just one defeat in what is now nine meetings.
Oh Sang Eun beat Ma Lin in December 2006 at the semi-final stage of the Menís Singles event at the Volkswagen Pro Tour Grand Finals in Hong Kong.
Ma Lin maintained his ascendancy over Oh Sang Eun
Meanwhile, in a similar vein, Ma Long and Zhang Jike maintained their ascendancy over their quarter-final rivals in Schwechat.
Seeded no.4, Ma Long beat Russiaís Alexey Smirnov, the no.16 seed in five games (11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-5) and Zhang Jike, the no.3 seed, overcame Japanís Jun Mizutani, the no.6 seed, by a similar margin.
Zhang Jike won 11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 14-12 and meets Ma Lin in the semi-finals, with Ma Long confronting Xu Xin in the adjacent half of the draw.
Never Previously Lost
Neither Ma Long nor Zhang Jike had every suffered defeat in international competition against their respective round of last eight rivals.
Ma Long had played Alexey Smirnov on one previous occasion, the Menís Singles event at the Qatar Open in February 2005, and had won in four straight games in their quarter-final encounter, whilst Zhang Jike had won all four previous meetings against Jun Mizutani.
He won in 2004 at the Asian Junior Championships, in 2009 at the Asian Championships, just under one year ago at the Liebherr Menís World Cup and earlier this year at the Qatar Open.
Jun Mizutani once again suffering at the hands of Zhang Jike
Destined for China
An all-Chinese final is guaranteed in the Menís Singles events; it is also guaranteed in both the Menís Doubles and Womenís Doubles competitions.
At the semi-final stage of the Menís Doubles event, Ma Lin and Zhang Jike beat Koreaís Oh Sang Eun and Ryu Seung Min (11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-5); whilst Ma Long and Wang Hao ended the brave run of Japanís Ryusuke Karube and Jin Ueda in a full distance seven games duel (10-12, 11-7, 6-11, 11-2, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4).
Similarly, in the Womenís Doubles event, Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia accounted for Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa (11-1, 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 11-3) with Fan Ying and Wu Yang following suit.
They won the battle of the defenders beating Russiaís Svetlana Ganina and Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus in four straight games.
Fan Ying and Wu Yang won 12-10, 11-3, 11-7, 11-7.
Fan Ying (left) serves as Wu Yang (right) is totally focused for the return
Photos by Kurt Bartuschek