by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Crucial to both contests was the doubles; Viktor Didukh and Maxym Nikolenko gave Ukraine the ideal start by beating Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson in a full distance five games encounter (11-4, 11-4, 10-12, 7-11, 11-6).
Similarly, Emil Andersson and Linus Karlsson gave Sweden the ideal start by overcoming Ye Chaoqun and Zhao Shuai in a similarly tense five games doubles contest (11-7, 5-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-4).
Success for Ukraine in the doubles rather sealed the fate of Great Britain; in the ensuing match Viktor Didukh, who had played on the ITTF World Tour prior to contracting cancer in his left knee which resulted in amputation, overame Will Bayley (11-2, 11-6, 11-6).
“It’s a nice experience”, said Oleksandr Didukh who is the elder brother of Viktor Didukh and currently competes on the ITTF World Tour,
“My brother asked me to help”, added Oleksandr Didukh. “In the doubles we made a good start, we won the first two games but then lost the next two; we made agood start in the fifth; that helped immensely.”
The die was cast, Viktor Didukh proved too powerful for Will Bayley.
“We felt confident that Viktor could beat Will Bayley; Viktor is Class 8, Will Bayley is Class 7, there was a big difference”, added Oleksandr Didukh. “Viktor had much more power.”
Equally for Sweden the doubles vital; it appeared to give Emil Andersson a major injection of confidence.
He won the first two games against Zhao Shuai before the 21 year old from Hebei recovered to secure a full distance success (12-14, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-4).
“In the first two games I played really well”, reflected Emil Andersson. “After the second game, he played better and my level went down, earlier in the doubles it was a case of putting the ball on the table with a lot of top spin; that caused the Chinese pair trouble.”
Onus of responsibility
Defeat for Emil Andersson meant that the onus of responsibility rested firmly on the shoulders of Linus Karlsson; he duly responded to his nation’s call. He beat Ye Chaoqun in four games (13-11, 11-2, 7-11, 11-3).
“I felt pretty good before the match”, said Linus Karlsson. “I kept my focus throughout and just tried to play my game; I think a key factor was that I received service well.”
Final and bronze medal
The final and bronze medal contests are scheduled for 12.00 noon on Friday 16th September.