by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In the second round of proceedings, he beat Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira, the no.6 seed, in six games (7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10).
However, one wondered if he had missed his opportunity; in the fifth game he held match point at 10-9 but was unable to convert; then in the sixth he led 8-4 and held a second match point at 10-9. Kenta Matsudaira gained parity before at 11-10, the Dane owned a third match point, having been somewhat fortunate when a forehand topspin resulting in the faintest of edges was adjudged in his favour. On this occasion he completed the task.
“I lost in Austria after having four or five match points, so today I was better prepared, I was more aggressive with my receive of service; also, having played him before I was more used to his services. Throughout the match my backhand was good, not only on the first attack but also in the rallies. In the fifth game I had match point at 10-9, he had a lucky next ball; I lost the game. I tried to put that out of my head but that’s so difficult. I went ahead 8-4 in the sixth game I tried to be positive but it’s difficult to get the match situation out of your mind, I was too passive but I came through; so far a great tournament.” Jonathan Groth
Throughout tournament, Linus Mernsten has been the coach sitting courtside, guiding Jonathan Groth to success. No doubt he went through mental torture but equally he understands that as the level rises, so do the demands on a player’s mind.
“It’s difficult to adjust the mind because now Jonathan is playing at a higher level, it takes time to adapt.” Linus Mernsten
Disappointment for Japan and at the same time as Kenta Matsudaira was experiencing defeat, so was 14 year old Tomakazu Harimoto, the no.11 seed; he was beaten by China’s Xu Xin but he came mightily close to causing a major upset.
He led by three games to one before Xu Xin recovered to emerge successful by the very minimal two point margin in the deciding game (9-11, 4-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-9).
“I was prepared for a long match, a hard match; after losing the fourth game I had to make some changes to my play. I had to try to play with more control; I’m still finding it difficult adjusting to playing with the new plastic ball.” Xu Xin
Two defeats for Japan but there was success; Koki Niwa, the no.3 seed, accounted for Slovakian qualifier, Wang Yang (11-4, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7).
Meanwhile, in the one remaining contest, there was further success for China. Fang Bo, the no.7 seed, beat Kristian Karlsson (14-12, 11-4, 11-1, 11-6) and thus ended the hopes of the host nation.
In the round of the last eight in the lower half of the draw Koki Niwa meets Fang Bo, Jonathan Groth opposes Xu Xin.
Both the quarter-finals and semi-final matches will be played on Saturday 18th November.