by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
At the final hurdle, Can Akkuzu, the no.4 seed, ended the quite incredible run of Chinese Taipei’s 16 year old Lin Yun-Ju (11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-7); whilst at the same time, Adriana Diaz, the top seed, accounted for Germany’s Nina Mittelham (11-9, 7-11, 14-12, 14-12).
It was for 19 year old Can Akkuzu a case of if you don’t succeed at first, try, try, try again. He was no stranger to ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles finals, the problem was he was a stranger to winning.
Olomouc was he fourth such final; on all three previous occasions he had finished in runners up spot. Last year in Hungary he had been beaten in the final by Korea’s Lim Jonghoon, later in the year in Poland by Denmark’s Wang Zhixu; meanwhile, earlier this year, once again he progressed to the final in Hungary, only to lose to Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko.
“I am feeling very tired right now after playing so many matches in the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Men’s Singles events. I didn´t play so well in the first rounds but I started to play better and better after each match, I gained a better feeling and my confidence increased. There was no reason for not playing well as I had very good preparation before the tournament. I knew Lin Yun-Ju and I knew he was a strong player but he is still young. It was important to me to keep my mind sharp. I knew I could win by being cleverer and more consistent than him.” Can Akkuzu.
A first for Can Akkuzu, it was the same for Adriana Diaz but a second such title of the year. In May she had prevailed at the ITTF Challenge Series tournament in Slovenia; whilst more recently, last week she reached the semi-final stage in Bulgaria.
“I prepared intensely in the last month back home in Puerto Rico and I am very happy to achieve such good results at the last two tournaments, reaching for the first time an ITTF World Tour semi-final in Bulgaria and now winning here in Olomouc. It was a very difficult final as Nina’s game is very uncomfortable for me; she plays with a lot of spin. It was hard to overcome the spin, in the end I started to control the ball; it was fundamental to change tactics and block the ball down the parallel. Now, having won my first Under 21 Women’s Singles title I am even more motivated to improve! I will continue practising, hoping I will be able to achieve as many titles as possible.” Adriana Diaz.
Milestones for Can Akkuzu and Adriana Diaz; also for Lin Yun-Ju and Nina Mittelham; it was their first appearance in an ITTF World Tour final.