by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager & Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
In the opening match of the contest in opposition to Egypt, the no.10 seeds, he partnered Paul Drinkhall to success against El-Sayed Lashin and Ahmed Ali Salaeh (11-5, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9).
Later, in the contest that brought the fixture to a conclusion he accounted for Mohamed El-Beiali (11-6, 11-8, 11-7), after Liam Pitchford had also beaten Mohamed El-Beiali (11-7, 3-11, 11-7, 11-4) and Paul Drinkhall had experienced defeat at the hands of in in-form Ahmed Ali Saleh (11-4, 7-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6).
“I love to play on the big stage; most of my best performances have always been on a big stage. I love to see the crowd, particularly playing in London in front of the supporters. There is nothing secret about my excitement at playing on the big stage as most of my good outings in major competitions have been performances on a big stage like this. I am becoming in love with such a platform. I played against Mohamed El-Beiali at the 2017 Belgium Open and I beat him four-nil; his style of play is quite good for me because he loves rallying, I ensured I seized the advantage. People were expecting us to win and it was very important that we won. It was tough but we are happy that we are in the quarter-finals and we will be playing in our city, which is London.” Sam Walker
“I think generally we are satisfied with our performance in this tournament because everybody in the team gave their best. In the match against England, we would have done better if Omar Assar had played. He had rest his injury in readiness for next week’s ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup in Kenya. I must commend the good performance of the team captain, Ahmed Ali Saleh who played very well against Paul Drinkhall. I believe this will improve his ranking. We had a good chance against England because we were under any pressure in the encounter. Overall, I believe we played good but not so high.” El-Sayed Lashin
I had played Paul Drinkhall twice and he has always beaten me but today, I think my experience really worked for me. As you are getting old as a player, you get more experience in the game. I played freely against him without any pressure because I also prepared very well for this tournament as well as next week’s ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup in Kenya. ” Ahmed Ali Saleh
Two wins for Sam Walker guided England to victory over Egypt; somewhat similarly two wins from Emmanuel Lebesson proved the mainstay of French success against Sweden, the no.7 seeds.
France, the no.9 seeds, emerged victorious by three matches to two. In the opening match of the fixture, he partnered Alexandre Cassin to success, the pair accounting for Pär Gerell and Anton Källberg (11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-3). Later in the concluding contest of the engagement, with the match score level at two-all, he overcame Kristian Karlsson in emphatic style (11-5, 11-3, 11-7).
“The doubles, Alexandre played really well, he returned service well; we’ve rarely played before. Against Kristian, he had problems with my service. I was strong on the first three attacks; if I’d become involved in long rallies I would have lost.” Emmanuel Lebesson.
Sandwiched in between the efforts of Emmanuel Lebesson, colleague Quentin Robinot lost to Kristian Karlsson (11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-8) and Pär Gerell (9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7); the one further win was for France was recorded by Alexandre Cassin against Anton Källberg in the third match of the fixture (11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5).
The outcomes meant England finished in second place in their group behind Japan but ahead of Egypt, for France it was second position behind China, Sweden finished in third spot.
All Men’s Team quarter-final fixtures are scheduled for later in the day at 7.00pm (local time).