By Neha Aggarwal
Kristian Karlsson’s dream run
The rich Swedish history came back to light when Kristian Karlsson won the final point against Simon Gauzy in the quarter finals here at the Liebherr 2016 Men’s World Cup. As Gauzy struggled to move closer to the net on his forehand, Karlsson sparkled a million dollar smile. The marathon match that lasted full seven games with 12-10 in the final one was a fine display of calculated risks, planned strategies and exceptional physical fitness on the table. Karlsson marched into his maiden semi finals beating Simon Gauzy 11-5,8-11,4-11,12-10,7-11,11-8,10-12.
Earlier is the day he probably caused the biggest upset of the tournament knocking down crowd favorite world number 6, Ovtcharov Dimitrij in a comfortable 4-1 (6-11,11-7,11-5,11-5,13-11) victory. Ovtcharov explained “I was just unlucky in the second game because I missed some vital points and when it was 3-1, I wanted to fight back but it was a bit late.”
“There were lot of things going on in my mind after being a father few weeks ago and I also lost my grandma two days ago coupled with the huge workload of the Olympic Games.”- Dimitrij Ovtcharov
With this, Kristian Karlsson will pay his first ever semi finals of the World Cup against the formidable Fan Zhendong.
Fan Zhendong class apart
When Fan Zhendong placed his foot on the court, he seem to have had a mission in mind. He thrashed Singapore’s Gao Ning in straight sets dropping only 15 points in the entire match winning 11-3,11-3,11-6,11-3. He seemed to have no problems with Gao Ning’s spinny loops and proved too strong for the world number 34.
In the quarter finals he prevailed over Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik 4-1. The Korean started the match on a vanquishing spree winning the first set 6-11. But the Chinese rose from slumber showing his true class winning the next four games 11-5,11-9,12-10,11-9 and thus marching into the semi finals to be played on 3rd October at 11 am local time.
Asians dominate the bottom half
Another big blow on day two came as Lee Sangsu ended Rio Olympic semi finalist and legendary Vladimir Samsonov dreams in in five games (11-9,7-11,12-10,16-14,11-6). Samsonov, who competed in his 16th World Cup was not too disappointed by he results as he said, “Sometimes you win and sometimes you loose. I lost today and it is not a big deal for me. I think table tennis is quite different from what it was in the past because of changes being made to the game.”
The Korean next faced Wong Chun Ting (HKG) in the quarter finals. Wong Chun Ting, who beat Monteiro Joao (POR) 4-2 in the last 16 stage, took a step further to beat Lee Sangsu in straight sets 11-9,11-5,11-7,11-5. Despite being confident, Lee Sangsu found it too hard to control Wong’s spins which costed him the entire match.
“It was not a difficult match for me because I had played him several times and I know how to beat him. We have met ten times and we both won each other five times now. But between last year and this year, I had defeated him four times so I was confident.”- Wong Chun Ting
He will now face Xu Xin (CHN) in the semi finals. His incredible run also earned him the shot of the day against Lee Sangsu:
Xu Xin on the other hand kept crushing his opponents to prove his dominance. In the round of 16, he did not even break a sweat to beat Brazil’s Hugo Calderano with a clear 4-0 margin (8-11,5-11,6-11,7-11). His next prey was Sweden’s Gerell Par who reached the quarter finals beating Apolonia Tiago by a comfortable 5 games victory.
World number three Xu Xin had some problems in adjusting to Gerell’s unpredictable serves and showed minor signs of nervousness but that was not enough to reverse the results of the game. He beat Gerell 4-1 (11-7,7-11,8-11,4-11,7-11).
Although he lost in the quart finals, Gerell put up a great show reaching the last 8 of this prestigious tournament. He said,
“After winning the first game, I was leading 7-4 in the second game but he managed to come back to win. I was also leading in the third game, but he managed to catch up and win that also! I am happy with my performance in the competition, getting to the last 8 is great for me.”
With this, the only European in the bottom half was also eliminated. The second semi finals will be played between Wong Chun Tin and Xu Xin on 3rd October at 11:45am local time.