by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The man responsible for the drama was Gustavo Tsuboi; after losing to Andrej Gacina in the opening match of the contest in four games (11-6, 11-7, 12-14, 11-9), in the vital fifth and deciding contest, he looked down and out against Tomislav Pucar.
He was making unforced errors, he was at odds with himself, he could not find a rhythm to his play; he lost the opening two games, trailed 6-9 in the third before performing what must be one of the most sensational recoveries of his career to hold two match points at 10-8 in the fifth. The first match point was saved, not the second, Brazil danced for joy.
Earlier, Hugo Calderano, now a player of high order, had beaten Tomislav Pucar (11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6 ) and Andrej Gacina (6-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3) to set the stage for Gustavo Tsuboi’s heroics. In the one further contest, the third match of the engagement, Frane Kojic had given Croatia great hope by beating Eric Jouti (11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-7).
A recovery by Gustavo Tsuboi, it was a recovery the whole Austrian team that brought success.
After Robert Gardos had lost to Tiago Apolonia (11-8, 11-13, 11-9, 12-10) and Stefan Fegerl had been beaten by Marcos Freitas (11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7) the recovery began, Daniel Habesohn accounted for João Monteiro (12-10, 11-9, 11-5), before Stefan Fegerl defeated Tiago Apolonia (11-9, 11-3, 11-9) and Robert Gardos overcame Marcos Freitas (11-5, 11-5, 4-11, 11-9) to complete the fightback.
“Marcos and myself have so many league matches against each other, the last twice we have played I have won. In the first two games it was perfect; at the end of the second game we both took a toilet break and things changed. We both knew that if we got the tactics wrong then we’d be killed. At 9-all in the fourth game I had the service, I just said to myself focus on the point, nothing else.” Robert Gardos
At the quarter-final stage Brazil meets Germany; Austria faces China.