by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Increasingly confident as every round progressed, at the quarter-final stage of proceedings Patrick Franziska accounted for Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.16 seed in five games (11-9, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7).
“I’m extremely happy making the semi-finals at a World Tour Platinum event: it’s something huge for me. I lost my last two matches against Kristian, so I knew it will be a very tough match. I had to change some tactics against him today, be aggressive, move well. I’m very happy that I managed it this well. I had to stay aggressive over the table, put pressure on him directly, because he has a lot of power in his game. Also with the spectators, they gave me enough power to win this match.” Patrick Franziska
Victory for Patrick Franziska but could it cause a personal problem? Kristian Karlsson’s sister is Patrick Franziska’s girlfriend!
“It’s a strange game, I mean we know each other very well and during holidays, I will be in Sweden, we are together there. We are good friends; it’s never easy especially for my girlfriend. I think it’s horrible but someone has to win and this time it’s me.” Patrick Franziska
A place in the semi-finals for Patrick Franziska but not for colleague, Timo Boll, the no.2 seed; he was beaten by China’s Ma Long, the no.5 seed (11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 17-15).
Progress for Ma Long, it was the same for his doubles partner and colleague Xu Xin, the no.3 seed; he accounted for Frenchman, Simon Gauzy, the no. 7 seed, in six games (10-12, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-3, 11-7)
“I think I wasn’t well prepared enough at the start of the match. Especially since I haven’t played against him for some time, I know he has improved a lot recently and that he’s very consistent. In the first game, I feel I wasn’t fully ready and didn’t handle the crucial points carefully enough. After being down two-nil, the whole situation did give me some pressure; luckily I was mentally prepared to fight till to a decider, so I was still able to remain calm. From the third game onwards, I started playing more forehands and that worked.” Xu Xin
Disappointment for Simon Gauzy but there were more positives than negatives to take from the defeat; earlier this year he had been absent from the international scene owing to illness.
“Xu Xin doesn’t lose often. I had my chance in the fourth game. I was down 8-5 and then I came back. Xu Xin had a lucky ball at 9-9. He was a bit better every time. He gained confidence so finally he made it. Two weeks ago I was lying in bed quite sick and now I am fighting against one of the best players in the world. I didn’t expect this but then again I am disappointed because maybe I could have done a bit better.” Simon Gauzy
Success for one qualifier in the guise of Patrick Franziska but not for another, Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson was beaten by Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.6 seed; the athletic pen-holder won in five games (12-10, 13-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9)
“I’m very happy with my performance and glad that I was able to continue my good form from the past two days. I feel I’m playing better and I am more stable as the tournament progresses. It was a tough match, the situation could easily have been the other way round if I had missed the crucial moments in the match. The last time we played against each other was at the World Championships, I won four-three. Prior to this match, I studied some of his match footages, his strengths and weaknesses and planned my tactics according to that and it worked really well.” Wong Chun Ting
Defeat for Mattias Karsson but a quarter-final appearance for a player who had been required to compete in the qualification tournament was a most creditable performance.
“All together it was a good tournament; right now it is a bit tough with this loss. I had my opportunities especially in the beginning of the match. I didn’t take the chances in the first and second games. All together I am quite satisfied with my performance here in Bremen.” Mattias Karlsson
At the semi-final stage Patrick Franziska meets Xu Xin, Wong Chun Ting opposes Ma Long.
“Patrick Franziska, he’s playing on home ground, so I believe the atmosphere tomorrow will be great.” Xu Xin
The matches are scheduled for the morning of Sunday 25th March; the semi-final schedule commencing at 10.00 am (local time).