Xu Xin and Zhang Jike duly secured semi-final places in the Men’s Singles event at the LIEBHERR World Championships in Paris, following quarter-final successes in the early afternoon of Sunday 19th May 2013.
However, the wins were hard earned; especially for Xu Xin whilst for Zhang Jike there were testing times before he found a rhythm and accelerated to victory.
Xu Xin overcame Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira in a hard fought six games duel (11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 14-12, 11-5, 11-8), before Zhang Jike recovered from an opening game deficit to end the hopes of Germany’s Patrick Baum in five games (9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-2).
Incredible Run of Form Wins over Ma Lin and Vladimir Samsonov en route to the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event, Kenta Matsudaira maintained his quite incredible run of form against Xu Xin.
A shake-hands grip right handed attacking top spin player but very different from most in that he plays more from the centre of the table than most; equally he is prepared to hold his ground and use his blocking skills to secure success.
Vital Factor It was a fact most prevalent against Xu Xin as he moved into a two games to one lead and stood toe-to-toe with the top seed in the fourth game.
He trailed by one point at 6-7; Xu Xin called “Time Out”. The Chinese star who had progressed without trouble to the round of the last eight was being tested.
Pressure The forehand top spin that usually causes havoc was been met with aplomb by Kenta Matsudaira. Xu Xin was under pressure, under severe pressure. He relieved the pressure cooker somewhat by winning a nerve tingling fourth game.
Gradually, Xu Xin adapted to the situation; less speed more spin; he captured the fifth game and in the sixth game went ahead 5-4.
Kenta Matsudaira called “Time Out”; he fought, he tested Xu Xin but the top seed was not to be moved.
Xu Xin reflects on his hard fought win over Kenta Matsudaira
Good Blocking Skills “I knew my opponent was in good form, he had beaten both Ma Lin and Vladimir Samsonov, so I knew it would be be a really tough match; certainly winning close fourth game was vital, it gave me confidence”, said Xu Xin. “He is a very good player, a very talented player; in particular his defence is good, he is very good at blocking.”
Good at blocking, Xu Xin is good executing forehand top spin strokes; eventually that talent prevailed, place in the semi-finals was secured.
Assumed Control Success for Xu Xin was followed by success for Zhang Jike, who true to tradition kept everyone on the edges of their seats before assuming control.
He lost the first game, won the second, trailed 5-10 in the third, won seven points in a row and then totally dominated matters.
Typical After struggling to find a rhythm, he purred like a Rolls Royce in overdrive; fluent, in the fast lane but always with seemingly one more gear remaining.
Simply that is Zhang Jike!
Liu Guoliang, the Head Coach, assesses the performance of the Chinese players in the Men’s Singles quarter-finals