by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Serve and receive, it is at the very basis of table tennis; exercise those two facets well and success is most likely to ensue; nowhere was that more apparent than in the decisive concluding game.
At the change of ends Bastian Steger led 5-3 but with Jon Persson serving, matters were levelled at 5-all. The next two points on the Bastian Steger service were shared; now there was a major opportunity for the Swede.
He went ahead 8-6 but he was to win just one further point; that being on his own service when trailing 8-9. Now the balance had swung in favour of Bastian Steger, he was serving, he made the service count and thus secured his first ever Challenge Series or ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title.
“Persson was hard to beat, I’m very happy to have won the title. They have been really strenuous days; I’m glad everything worked so well.” Bastian Steger
Notably, his one other appearance in such a final was at the 2009 ITTF World Tour Polish Open in Warsaw when beaten at the final hurdle by colleague, Timo Boll.
Defeat for Jon Persson but there were crumbs of comfort. It was his first ever ITTF Challenge Series or ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles final and it was a much better performance than on the one previous occasion when he had confronted Bastian Steger on the international stage.
The one previous meeting was last year at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, on that occasion it had been a straight games defeat (12-10, 11-1, 11-4).
In Otocec it was different, he had his chances but not different enough; it was successive wins for Germany.
Last week at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour German Open, Timo Boll had prevailed, in Slovenia the name was Bastian Steger.