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.
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]