21 Mar 2017

Outstanding on the first two days of play, not listed amongst the seeded names; against expectations Romania’s Adrian Crisan, Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall and Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic all emerged successful as the third round of the Men’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games came to a close.

On the early afternoon of Monday 8th August, form was maintained to book fourth round places.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Adrian Crisan caused the biggest upset by beating Korea’s Lee Sangsu, the no.12 seed, in a dramatic seven games duel, eventually securing victory on his fourth match point (9-11, 13-11, 5-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, 13-11). Andrei Filiom, the Romanian coach sitting court stood in adulation when the last point was secured, Adrian Crisan lay prone on the floor.

Mentally Tough

“It was a really tough match from the very beginning; mentally it was very hard, he is very strong”, said Adrian Crisan. “In the seventh game when I led 10-8 he changed his serves and then I became nervous; thanks to God I won.”

Equally Tense

A tension packed contest; the duel between Paul Drinkhall and Croatia’s Andrej Gacina, the no.15 seed, was just as tense; the man from Loftus in the north of England, winning in six games (8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8).

“I’m not sure of my record against Andrej but I know that I’ve beaten him a few times in the past”, said Paul Drinkhall; the record now stands at four wins out of five meetings in the international arena in favour of the British player.

Good Serves and First Attack

“I felt good before the match but it’s tough playing against him; he has good serves and his first attack, especially over the table is very strong, if I could get the first two balls back when he served then I had a good chance”, added Paul Drinkhall. “Yesterday I beat Gao Ning who likes to move around his backhand to play a forehand; Andrej is the same but faster.”

In fact Paul Drinkhall is not too dissimilar.

“I kept trying to move around to play my forehand”, continued Paul Drinkhall. “Maybe I should have used my backhand more; the main factor was to be aggressive and try to stay close to the table.”

System Questioned

Two tense duels; by comparison the win recorded by Bojan Tokic over Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, the no.14 seed, was less dramatic. Bojan Tokic won in five games (11-6, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8).

“It is an advantage to have played already, of course; maybe it should be better to think about another playing system”, said Bojan Tokic. “The top players to face an opponent of the same level, who has played two previous matches; it is an advantage.”

An advantage, Bojan Tokic made most of the advantage.

“My backhand was working very well, but the mental point was really strong.”

First for Vladimir Samsonov

A first appearance in the fourth round of an Olympic Games Men’s Singles event for Bojan Tokic and a first of a different nature for Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.7 seed. He overcame Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.20 seed (9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8).

It’s the first time I’ve beaten a Swedish player at an Olympic Games; last night I was wondering if it was ever going to happen”, smiled a very satisfied Vladimir Samsonov.

In 2000 in Sydney he had been beaten by Jan-Ove Waldner at the semi-final stage; eight years later in Beijing in the fourth round by Jörgen Persson.

“It’s difficult playing Kristian because he presses so hard from the backhand, very fast but as the match progressed he pressed too hard and made mistakes”, added Vladimir Samsonov. “I won today because of experience but you only needed experience to win by now I’d be Olympic and World champion!”

High Casualty Rate

A fourth round place for Vladimir Samsonov as status predicted but for several of the leadings names it was farewell; of the 16 players who entered the Men’s Singles event in the third round, the very elite, only nine progressed, seven suffered defeat.

Rio 2016 Rio Men's News Paul Drinkhall Bojan Tokic Adrian Crisan

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