by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Two left handers on view in the guise of Xu Xin and Jonathan Groth but total different; Xu Xin the pen-holder with long raking forehand, Jonathan Groth, the shake-hands grip top spin player, an intriguing contest beckoned.
A bank of pro Danish supporters in the crowd, Jonathan Groth captured the opening game, in the second he went ahead 3-1 but was to win just two more points. A rhythm to his play established, Xu Xin captured the third game without being in danger.
Stopping a fearsome first forehand attack was the task for Jonathan Groth but over the table, the short play, Xu Xin was proving the more successful player. He won the first three points of the fourth game, Jonathan Groth called “Time Out” but Xu Xin was very much in the ascendancy, as the Dane fought to find a rhythm to his play, so Xu Xin established control.
Experiencing a host of problems against the Xu Xin style of play, resolute, Jonathan Groth fought; in the fifth game he went ahead 9-7, Xu Xin levelled at 9-all and then held match point at 10-9, the chance was taken.
“I’d never played Jonathan before, I wasn’t sure what to expect; I didn’t adapt. I made some changes from the start of the second game. I think I was better with the short play. In the fifth game even though I was losing 7-9 I still felt confident.” Xu Xin
Victory for Xu Xin was followed by the same from Fang Bo but in a much closer contest. Fang Bo secured the first two games, Koki Niwa responded to win the next two, before in the fourth game at 7-all he called “Time Out”. The break worked, he won the game and the next to establish a three games to two lead.
In the sixth game trailing 4-5, Fang Bo elected for “Time Out”; the pause paid dividends. He established a 9-6 lead, eventually holding two match points at 10-8; he seized the opportunity, a seventh game was needed.
Tension, at the change of ends in the decider, Fang Bo led 5-3 but at 7-all it was parity. However, Fang Bo was not to be denied at 10-8 he held two match points. He converted at the first attempt.
At the semi-final stage Fang Bo and Xu Xin meet.