by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Facing 18 year old qualifier Xue Fei, runner in the Boys’ Singles event at the 2015 World Junior Championships in La Roche sur Yon and keeping the best traditions of pen-hold grip play alive; Timo Boll, now 36 years old, trailed the Chinese teenager by three games to one and was behind 4-8 in the fifth. It was at that stage he assumed the guise of the legendary escapologist, Harry Houdini, to mount one of the most remarkable recoveries of his career.
Eventually, Timo Boll emerged successful in seven games (12-14, 11-2, 10-12, 9-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-7).
“Xu Fei played very well and put a lot of pressure on me; from the end of the fifth game onwards, I played with more variety and moved better.” Timo Boll
Success for one German but for two more it was defeat; by the very narrowest of margins, Ruwen Filus, the no.5 seed, was beaten by Pär Gerell (7-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-5, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10); in almost equally close contest, Bastian Steger, the no.13 seed, suffered at the hands of Japan’s Jin Ueda, like Pär Gerell, a qualifier (11-3, 9-11, 11-9, 10-12, 6-11, 13-11, 11-4).
A close call for Pär Gerell, it was the same for Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.8 seed; at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Emmanuel Lebesson had needed the full five games to beat Sweden’s Anton Källberg. In Olomouc it could hardly have been closer. Emmanuel Lebesson succeeded by the very narrowest of decisions (14-12, 3-11, 11-5, 11-13, 11-9, 12-10, 11-9).
“It was so close. Last time against him it was 12-10 in the final game at the Team Championships in Malaysia. I know that against this type of player, there are maximum three, four shots in each rally. It was also a difficult match in the head, because you know you must play two to three rallies every point. I was a little but lucky at the end to win.” Emmanuel Lebesson
At the quarter-final stage, Timo Boll meets Pär Gerell; Emmanuel Lebesson opposes Jin Ueda.
The Men’s Singles quarter-finals will commence following the first two Women’s Singles last eight matches which are due to start at 8.00am on Saturday 26th August.