by Simon Daish
One of the standout encounters of the day was witnessed in the evening session of play as Germany’s Timo Boll and China’s Lin Gaoyuan fought out a thrilling quarter-finals battle.
Both competitors had enjoyed positive results earlier in the day with Timo Boll and Lin Gaoyuan claiming respective victories over Gustavo Tsuboi (12-10, 11-8, 11-5, 13-11) and Marcos Freitas (11-3, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5) in the Round of 16 and all signs pointed to an epic showdown between the two players.
With the match level at three games apiece Lin Gaoyuan stormed to what appeared to be an unassailable 4-10 lead in the deciding game, but a fantastic comeback effort saw Timo Boll recover, stealing the win in dramatic fashion (5-11, 11-13, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 14-12, 13-11).
Top seed Ma Long safely moved through to the last four of the draw, following a strong outing from the World champion on the second day of play in Liège.
Coming through his opening fixture against Omar Assar of Egypt across five games (11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4) Ma Long went on to seal his spot in the semi-finals, eliminating Japan’s Koki Niwa from the competition (13-11, 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8).
Fourth seed Jun Mizutani has crashed out of the competition after the Japanese contestant lost out to the seventh seeded player Simon Gauzy in the last eight.
Simon Gauzy was one of the star competitors at last year’s World Cup in Saarbrücken where he achieved a quarter-finals finish and now the Frenchman has gone one better, booking his place in the semi-finals with a seven games win against Jun Mizutani (11-7, 6-11, 13-11, 11-13, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8). No Japanese player has ever won a medal at the tournament and with Mizutani’s exit in Liège the unfortunate record remains.
Awaiting Simon Gauzy in the next round is the second seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who edged to a tight victory in his quarter-finals fixture against Alexander Shibaev.
Russian representative Shibaev has been one of the star players in Liège and came close to registering another superb win in the concluding match of Day Two, but Ovtcharov held his nerve and eventually came out on top by a four games to three scoreline (9-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7).