by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It is totally new territory for Pavel Platonov, he has never advanced to an ITTF World Tour final of any description; equally for Vladimir Samsonov it is a landmark. It is the first time he has reached an ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles final this century!
In fact he has only ever appeared in two and only ever won once! In partnership with Germany’s Jörg Rosskopf he emerged successful in Austria in 1997, the duo beating China’s Liu Guozheng and Ma Lin in the final; before two years later in Croatia having to settle for runners up spot when joining forces with the host nation’s Zoran Primorac. The pair suffered at the hands Frenchmen Patrick Chila and Jean-Philippe Gatien.
However, Vladimir Samsonov did reach the title deciding contest at the first two Grand Finals in harness with Jörg Rosskpopf. On both occasions it was defeat at Chinese hands; in 1996 in Tianjin the duo lost to Wang Liqin and Yan Sen, one year later in Hong Kong, to Kong Linghui and Liu Guoliang.
“It was a very intense match going to the full distance. We had the advantage when we played short-short and then started the rally; we tried to keep it that way. The key moment was the start of the deciding game, we had a good start so we could even decide to take a few more risks. Now in the final; bring it on!” Pavel Platonov
Now, over two decades later another Chinese pair awaits; at the final hurdle Pavel Platonov and Vladimir Samsonov face Fan Zhendong and Yu Ziyang, the no.6 seeds.
Impressively in the penultimate round they accounted for the top seeded combination formed by Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Denmark’s Jonathan Groth (11-6, 11-5, 11-7).
Success for China, in the counterpart Women’s Doubles event it was success in both semi-finals and the end of Hungarian aspirations.
Chen Ke and Wang Manyu, the no.7 seeds, beat the no.2 seeds, the host nation’s Georgina Pota and Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm (11-6, 11-5, 11-2); in the opposite half of the draw, Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha, the no.3 seeds, ended the hopes of Hong Kong. They accounted for Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching, the top seeds (11-4, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6).
“We had to make sure we played very precisely to be able to dominate the match as they are a very good doubles pair.” Chen Ke
“It did not go the way we planned; their game plan was a better than ours. We played well, just we could not soak up the constant pressure from them.” Georgina Pota
The final of both the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles events will be played on Sunday 21st January and surely that is good news for 41 year old Vladimir Samsonov, he has a whole day to rest those weary old bones.