13 Apr 2018

Cometh the hour, cometh the man; when the big stage beckons England’s Sam Walker responds, at the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on Friday 13th April, he responded.

After matters had gone exactly to plan with Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, Singapore’s Gao Ning and India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta booking semi-final places as status predicted, the 22 year old, produced fireworks.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

The no.8 seed, he beat very much the player in form; he accounted for India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the no.2 seed, the young man who had been a crucial member of the gold medal outfit in the Men’s Team event earlier in the week.

Furthermore, Sam Walker emerged successful in most commanding fashion, a straight games win was the order of the day (11-8, 11-8, 13-11, 17-15), the performance very different to that we had experienced in the semi-final of the Men’s Team event when, by his own admission, he had under performed.

“It’s really good to get through, I played well today. I like the big matches, the big stage, it suits me; I cannot explain, I don’t know why. The team event was very disappointing. Maybe the occasion got to me; that’s not normal for me. Today winning the first game was really important, it put him under pressure. Today I was much more positive than in the team competition.” Sam Walker

A dramatic end to the Men’s Singles quarter-final contests, the start was one of efficiency as Quadri Aruna, the top seed, beat Harmeet Desai, like Sathiyan Gnanasekaran from India and the no.7 seed (11-9, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8)

“It was a 50:50 match, it was difficult. Harmeet is a good player, we’ve often practised against each other. Today my forehand was good, especially when I stepped around to play from the backhand side of the table. I could not be passive; I had to be positive otherwise he would have been too fast for me. For sure the win is a big confidence booster.” Quadri Aruna

Success for Quadri Aruna was followed with success for Sharath Kamal Achanta, the no.4 seed, in a hard fought duel. Guilded by Massimilano Costantini, he overcame England’s Liam Pitchford, the no.6 seed (9-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9)

“We have a lot of history, we’ve played against each other in the German Bundesliga, the Commonwealth Games; it was a battle of history. I was thinking I knew what he would do and he was thinking he knew what I would do. In the end we did neither. I thought my best tactic was to use my power and win the points quickly but that is what he was doing; Max told me to play two or three balls on the table, be prepared to play rallies, Liam made mistakes trying to finish the point.” Sharath Kamal Achanta

A place in the semi-final as seeding advised, it was the same for Gao Ning; the no.3 seed, he accounted for Canada’s Eugene Wang, the no.14 seed (10-12, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9).

“In the first game I went ahead 6-1, he started to come back and I became anxious and lost several points in a row. I tried to stay calm and maintain my concentration. He plays very soft, no great power; his control is good, he is good in the passive game.” Gao Ning

At the semi-final stage Quadri Aruna meets Sharath Kamal Achanta, Sam Walker faces Gao Ning; the matches are scheduled for Saturday 14th April.

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Day 11 - 2018 Commonwealth Games