21 Mar 2017

Preparation is vital especially when the subject in question is competing in the Olympic Games; for Denmark’s Jonathan Groth it was a problem but at the end of the day it was all’s well that ends well.

In the second round of the Men’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on the morning of Sunday 7th August, he beat Finland’s Benedek Olah in four straight games (11-8, 11-5, 12-10, 11-3).

by Ian Marshall. ITTF Publications Editor

Bat Rubber Disappeared

The result would suggest that the preparation was perfect; however, that was not the situation.

On the previous day the sheet of bat rubber that he intended to use for the second round match disappeared from his room; he suspects that it was taken by the cleaner who thought it was destined for the rubbish bin!

Dream Fulfilled

“I had to prepare a new rubber today, so my preparation was not 100 per cent; in practice this morning before the match I did not feel that great, in the match it was a case of fighting hard”, explained Jonathan Groth. “Playing in the Olympic Games has been my dream; to win a match is my dream fulfilled, it’s even a relief.”

Certainly Jonathan Groth appeared well prepared and clearly followed the advice of coach, Linus Mernsten.

“It was not the best of matches but I followed the tactics and came through successfully”, concluded Jonathan Groth.

Hugo Calderano

Success for Jonathan Groth, as per expectations, to the delight of the crowd there was success for Hugo Calderano against expectations. He beat Sweden’s Pär Gerell, the no.24 seed (13-11, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 13-11).

“The first two games were very close, I am happy that I could win them because in both he led 10-8; that was important to give me confidence for the rest of the match”, said Hugo Calderano. “I didn’t have many problems to return his serves, I think that my receive was very good, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable with his serve.”

Somewhat Unknown

A second round win for Hugo Calderano; as matters concluded on the second morning of play there were also wins for Great Britain’s Liam Pitchford and Qatar’s Li Ping in addition to Canada’s Eugene Wang and Qatar’s Li Ping.

Liam Pitchford, the no.31 seed, accounted for Uzbekistan’s Zokhid Kenjaev (11-3, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6), a somewhat of an unknown quantity not being a regular face on the ITTF World Tour.

“It has been quite a long wait before I have actually played; it is the first time I have played Zokhid Kenjaev, I didn’t know him”, said Liam Pitchford. “He has good serves and he is very fast; when I played my backhand wide to his forehand I was able to win.”

Notable Performances

Meanwhile, in an equally impressive manner Panagiotis Gionis beat Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul (11-7, 11-2, 11-5, 11-6); Li Ping accounted for Hungary’s Adam Pattantyus (13-11, 11-3, 13-11, 11-3), whilst Eugene Wang defeated Turkey’s Li Ahmet (11-7, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4).

Progress but for two notable names it was the end of the road, Spain’s He Zhiwen, now 54 years old, was beaten by Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the no.25 seed (11-3, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9); Nigeria’s Segun Toriola, in action in his seventh Olympic Games, experienced defeat at the hands Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.17 seed (9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-6, 11-1).


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