by Simon Daish
The two players met in the Men’s Singles final at the recent ITTF World Tour tournament held in Stockholm, Sweden where pen-hold specialist Xu Xin emerged with the gold medal.
Competing against one another once again a month later at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals it was a very different outcome as Fan Zhendong earned his second consecutive victory of the campaign in Astana.
While the four games to one scoreline may suggest a relatively straightforward day at the office for Fan Zhendong the reality is that Xu Xin put up a very decent fight, however, it was the former of the two players who held the edge on this occasion (11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10).
“Playing against Xu Xin, our levels are very close so the on court performance is more important. Today, I was able to take the crucial points to win the match, so I’m still very happy. If I was going to face Ovtcharov, that would be in the final. If there’s chance of that, of course I hope to win against him in the final. There’s still a semi-finals match tomorrow, regardless who my opponent will be, I will have to be fully prepared to play my best.” Fan Zhendong.
Providing the opposition for Fan Zhendong in the lower half of the semi-finals draw is Timo Boll after the German star navigated a tough quarter-finals showdown with Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting.
36-year-old Timo Boll found himself two games to one down for the second match in a row and once again he recovered with three consecutive game wins (4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-3) to advance through to the next round.
“It was again very close, the fifth game was very important. He came back very well and I had to force myself to every ball. Everyone is very tired at this moment, it’s the last tournament of the season. For both of us, I think it’s not only a fight against each other, but also a fight against yourself. I think I’m the hunter, I’m in the comfortable position but I try to give everything, that’s all I can do. I have a lot of self confidence so I will try my best and hope in the end that I will win. But he’s an outstanding player and it will be very difficult.” Timo Boll.
The Men’s Singles tournament will return on Saturday 16th December with quarter-finals action from 13.50pm (local time).