by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Time and again, the pivotal moment in a seven games contest is when the players change ends in the deciding game; for Simon Gauzy holding a 5-3 lead, the advantage proved crucial, for Alexander Shibaev who led 5-2 it was quite the reverse.
Simon Gauzy never relinquished the two point lead, at 10-6, he held four match points, two were saved but not a third as he buried a high lobbed return from Jun Mizutani that had landed near the net into the next town.
“It was a very crazy match; I am just delighted to overcome Mizutani, who is also a fantastic player. I am very happy to get to this stage. It is a big achievement and hard work. I am just really happy with my performance this year. I am also happy to have my family here supporting me. I worked hard to stay calm today throughout the match but inside I was burning. It was a great match and great win against a great player.” Simon Gauzy
Conversely, for Alexander Shibaev, with the wonderful benefit of hindsight, he missed his chances. In the third game, after having won the first two, he led 10-8, he lost four points in a row to open the door for Dimitrij Ovtcharov. Likewise, in the seventh game, he lost a string of points. At the change of ends he was ahead 5-2 but then won just one of the next nine points to trail 6-10. He saved one match point but not a second.
“Alexander played a fantastic game today and he brought out the best in me. I think Alexander has improved greatly in his skills. If the game has gone three-nil, it would have been almost impossible for me. I never give up. I think the support from the crowd really helped me and I hope they will support me tomorrow in the semi-final. I think having three Europeans in the semi-finals showed the level of hard work and support we are getting from the continent. It is indeed a good tournament for Europe.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Defeat for Alexander Shibaev, no consolation for the Russian but it was the first time in the competition that he had progressed beyond in the initial stage. In 2014 in Düsseldorf and last year in Saarbrücken, he had finished in third place in his first phase group.
Meanwhile, for Jun Mizutani, in six appearances it was his fifth quarter-final Men’s World Cup excursion and different from previous experiences, it was the first time he had suffered defeat when reaching the round of the last eight.
Conversely, for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, it was his eighth quarter-final in ten Men’s World Cup tournaments, the third time he has progressed to the semi-finals; for Simon Gauzy his second quarter-final in three appearances, his first semi-final.
Success for Simon Gauzy and Dimitrij Ovtcharov who were coached respectively by Patrick Chila and Jörg Rosskopf.
Patrick Chila played in four Men’s World Cup events, notably reaching the quarter-finals in Nîmes in 1996 and 1997; Jörg Rosskopf competed seven times but I wonder for him what was more mentally tiring?
Winning in Shantou in 1998 or watching Timo Boll in 2017 save seven match points against China’s Lin Gaoyuan and then Dimitrij Ovtcharov make a seventh game recovery against Alexander Shibaev?
Liebherr 2017 ITTF Men’s World Cup: Latest Results