Japan’s Koki Niwa, the top seed and Lin Guoyuan, the silver medallist one year ago booked their places in the final of the Boys’ Singles event at the Volkswagen World Junior Championships in Bahrain, by emerging successful at the penultimate stage on Sunday 20th November 2011.
Koki Niwa kept his supporters on the very edges of their seats by saving one match point in the fifth game before overcoming Quentin Robinot of France 12-14,13-15,11-7,12-10,13-15,13-11,11-9.
Meanwhile, Lin Gaoyuan withstood a tremendous fight back by Maharu Yoshimura to succeed 11-6, 11-2, 11-8, 8-11, 4-11, 3-11, 11-7.
Intriguing Contest An intriguing contest, the speed and dexterity of Koki Niwa in opposition to the power of Quentin Robinot; it was the Asian style versus the European style.
In the first two games it was the power of the Frenchman that prevailed.
Quentin Robinot was active and was producing exhilarating play; very much in the zone, ready for the challenge.
The first two games were decided by the very narrowest of margins with Quentin Robinot the more confident player when forced away from the table.
Stay Close At the quarter-final stage against China’s Zheng Peifeng, Koki Niwa had lost the first two games and had then recovered; basically by staying closer to the table and being more positive.
Against Quentin Robinot after losing the first two games, he secured the third but at 8-6 in the fourth he trailed by two points. Mazakazu Kawano, the head Coach of the Japanese Boys’ Team called “Time Out”.
Less Time It proved a shrewd decision; Koki Niwa, clearly under instructions to stay close and not retreat, recovered to win the fourth game; staying close, he was giving Quentin Robinot much less time to react.
Injection of Confidence In the fourth game Koki Niwa who had been on the brink of falling behind three games to one; had recovered to level.
Tentative at the start, Koki Niwa was more confident at the beginning of the fifth game; he moved ahead 4-1.
Character It was from that moment on Quentin Robinot showed great character.
He fought he was back, at 9-all it was parity before at after saving four game points the Frenchman succeeded.
Match Point Saved Positive, like the hunter in search of his prey, Quentin Robinot started the sixth game just as he had started the first; no inhibitions. At 10-9 he held match point, it was saved, then game point to Koki Niwa at 11-10 and again at 12-11; converted on the second occasion; a seventh game beckoned.
Atmosphere There was now an electric atmosphere in the hall with the two camps of supporting players and coaches in full voice.
At 4-3 Koki Niwa held a one point lead; Jacques Mommessin, the French Boys’ Team National Coach, called “Time Out”.
Match Point Secured The next point went to Koki Niwa who was directing his first attacks the body of Quentin Robinot time and again; the Frenchman, as in the previous game fought. He won the next four points; Koki Niwa responded to level at 8-all, then 9-all and at 10-9 he held match point.
A chance, he took the chance; Japan celebrated; poor Quentin Robinot, who had given his all, stood in disbelief.
Second Intriguing Match The first Boys’ Singles semi-final saw power versus speed, the second saw the same; the power of Maharu Yoshimura against the quicksilver speed of Lin Gaoyuan.
Accepted Responsibility Unquestionably he was prepared for the battle but he was in a very different situation to his two previous Boys’ Singles semi-final appearances at the Volkswagen World Junior Championships. In those encounters he had faced colleagues; losing to Fang Bo in 2009 and bearing Wu Jiaji in 2010.
Orient Express He started like an express train. Lin Gaoyuan won the first two games, Maharu Yoshimura was never at the races.
In the third game Lin Gaoyuan raced into a three-nil lead, Yosuke Kurashima, the Japanese National Coach on duty, called “Time Out”.
Too Fast? A worthy call but the Quicksilver Lin Gaoyuan was in the fast lane, at breakneck speed.
However, was the adrenalin flowing just too fast? He went ahead 7-3 but then Maharu Yoshimura recovered to trail 8-6; the Chinese camp called “Time Out”.
The call proved shrewd; Lin Gaoyuan secured the game.
Accepted Responsibility However, Maharu Yoshimura was not prepared to surrender.
In the fourth game he moved into an 8-5 lead. He maintained the lead; he won the game and duly reduced the arrears to two games.
Reversal Lin Gaoyuan having dominated the first three games now showed signs of tension; the winning post was near.
Success in the fourth game, Maharu Yoshimura dominated the next two; the match had turned on its head. Lin Guoyuan had raced away with the first three games, Maharu Yoshimura had responded.
Tension Tension filled the air.
Lin Gaoyuan celebrated every success as though he had won the lottery; he led 5-2 at the change of ends in the decisive seventh game. Maharu Yoshimura won the next four points before Lin Guayuan replied to level at 6-all.
Match Point The four three points went to Lin Gaoyuan, four match points; one match point was saved but not the second.