24 Feb 2018

Emotions ran high at the Copperbox Arena in London on Friday 23rd February as the English men’s team celebrated a fantastic victory against Brazil to reach the last four of the Men’s Team event at the 2018-ITTF Team World Cup while there was also major upset in the Women’s Team draw.

by Simon Daish

There was drama right from the start of England’s tie with Brazil as Sam Walker and Paul Drinkhall fought back from two games down to inflict a five games defeat upon Eric Jouti and Gustavo Tsuboi (5-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5) before Liam Pitchford set the Copperbox alight with a tremendous result against Hugo Calderano (11-4, 11-6, 11-6).

The Brazilian team managed to narrow the gap to the hosts through Gustavo Tsuboi; trailing by a two games to nil deficit Tsuboi responded well to defeat Paul Drinkhall (8-11, 6-11, 14-12, 11-4, 11-6) but come the conclusion of the match it was Team England celebrating as Liam Pitchford stepped up to beat Eric Jouti across four games (6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9) to bring the tie to a close.

“I’m really lost for words, I don’t know what to say. I’m over the moon. I’ve been working recently with psychologists and one-to-one with coaches, working on small things in my game that I need in order to make the step up. It’s been up and down but now I feel I’m flourishing. I can’t really explain it; I’m just playing well and enjoying the moment…” Liam Pitchford [England]

Korea Republic endured a difficult quarter-finals match with opponents France pushing the no.5 seeds right down to the wire. Despite a doubles win for Korea Republic and a narrow victory for Jeoung Youngsik standout performances against Lee Sangsu from Quentin Robinot (11-2, 12-10, 11-9) and Emmanuel Lebesson (9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 4-11, 11-6) kept the tie alive for the French.

However, Jeong Sangeun made sure of Korea Republic’s spot in the last four with a fine display against Robinot (11-7, 11-6, 11-2).

European champions Germany have exited the Men’s Team competition following a comfortable 3-0 loss against China and the other team which has bid farewell is Hong Kong with Japan claiming a narrow 3-2 success against the fourth seeded team.

DPR Korea extend Women’s Team campaign in London (Photo: Rémy Gros)

Restricted to a second position finish in Group B no.9 seeds DPR Korea pulled off a surprise victory at the quarter-finals stage of the Women’s Team event defeating Chinese Taipei, seeded fourth, by a 3-0 scoreline.

Recovering from a two games deficit, the pairing of Kim Nae Hae and Cha Hyo Sim handed DPR Korea the early advantage with a superb doubles outing against Cheng Hsien-Tzu and Chen Szu-Yu (9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7) before respective wins for Kim Song I and Cha Hyo Sim over Cheng I-Ching (11-3, 11-9, 8-11, 11-3) and Chen Szu-Yu (11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5) sent DPR Korea through to the last four.

There was a perfect display for the Chinese women’s line-up in the afternoon session of play; China earned a straight games win in the opening fixture against the United States of America as Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen combined to perfection to defeat Amy Wang and Wu Yue (11-5, 11-7, 11-2).

Wang Manyu then took to the table for China, proving too strong for Lily Zhang in the first singles match of the tie (11-8, 11-4, 11-5) and a victory for Liu Shiwen over Wu Yue (11-9, 11-7, 11-8) confirmed USA’s elimination from the tournament.

Awaiting China in the penultimate round is a tough encounter with Hong Kong, who beat Romania by a 3-0 margin in the last eight while the other semi-finals spot is reserved for Japan with the top seeds triumphing 3-1 over Singapore.

“We were leading two-nil. I had to win because if I lost who knows what might happen next. Our initial goal in this competition was to make it to the medal zone because we missed out in 2015; this year we wanted to prove something.” Lee Ho Ching [Hong Kong]

“England, so many wonderful memories and now today another great memory, I won both my matches on my birthday and Japan is in the semi-final…” Kasumi Ishikawa [Japan]

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Team World Cup