03 May 2018

Sheer drama, tension, delight matched with despair brought the fifth day of play, Thursday 3rd May, to a conclusion at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships in Halmstad, Sweden.

In the concluding fixtures in the opening round of the Men’s event, Austria, the no.11 seeds, beat Portugal, the no.8 seeds by three matches to two; by the same margin, Brazil, the no.10 seeds, accounted for Croatia, the outsiders, the no.20 seeds.

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.

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Day 8 - Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships

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