by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The seventh highest rated of those on first phase duty, Russia’s Artur Abusev needed the full seven games to beat Sweden’s Jonathan Thimion (11-6, 11-9, 11-13, 11-4, 7-11, 10-12, 11-2), before in six games accounting for India’s Manush Utpalbhai Shah (20-22, 11-9, 11-3, 11-9, 2-11, 15-13).
I doubt there is any player in the whole tournament, who has covered as much ground as Artur Abusev; he is the only male defensive player on view.
“It was the first time that I’ve ever played Jonathan Thimion, he uses short pimpled rubber on both sides of the racket; the ball comes over the net very flat, he played the first ball very hard.” Artur Abusev
Principally a defensive player but as is now mandatory when adopting that technique, as strong forehand top spin is part of his armoury.
Victory against a player who used short pimpled rubber, one thinks immediately of the now retired Spanish international, He Zhiwen; very different to Jonathan Thimion being a left handed pen-holder but against backspin play he was devastating.
Equally, the second opponent of the day for Artur Abusev was also of a style that was problematic. Manush Utpalbhai Shah is a left handed top spin player; the natural forehand top spin from the Indian is directed towards the body of Artur Abusev.
“I had to be mentally strong, no lapses of concentration, play one point and then the next; he did make mistakes when I returned with very minimal backspin.” Artur Abusev
It is delight to watch Artur Abusev in age when those who extol the backspin art are few and far between; currently the leading name in the style is that of Panagiotis Gionis of Greece.
Artur Abusev is waiting in the wings, a possible successor.