20 May 2018

Required to compete in the qualification rounds, Tobias Hippler and Kilian Ort, very much contrary to expectations, won the Men’s Doubles title at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Thailand Open in Bangkok on the evening of Sunday 20th May.

In the contest that closed the curtain on proceedings, at the final hurdle they beat the top seeds, India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sanil Shetty in four games (12-10, 9-11. 12-10, 11-7).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

Most certainly the success was well earned; they beat three of the top four seeded pairs en route to gold.

Additional to Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sanil Shetty, at the quarter-final stage they overcame Chinese Taipei’s Peng Wang-Wei and Sun Chia-Hung, the no.4 seeds (11-9, 11-8, 11-6), in the penultimate round they accounted for Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Kenta Tazoe, the no.2 seeds (9-11, 14-12, 11-9, 11-7).

Furthermore, the three outstanding results nearly didn’t happen; they almost didn’t secure a main draw place! In the concluding preliminary round they had to recover from a two games to one deficit to beat Korea’s Cho Daeseong and Woo Hyeonggyu (11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5).

“It was quite difficult, because we know that the Indian guys always play good doubles. It was also our first time playing together. Some doubles players have played together for years, so I was surprised we could play so well together!” Tobias Hippler

In the final, the Germans, a left handed and right handed pairing like the Indian duo, Tobias Hippler and Sanil Shetty being the lefties, secured a close first game success. In the second they went ahead 4-1, the points were brief, no exhilarating rallies, the odd flash of forehand brilliance at high risk but tension dominated. Neither team was ever able to secure a commanding lead. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sanil Shetty levelled at 6-all and proceeded to secure the game.

Matters level, in the third game, the German duo went ahead 4-1, they never extended the advantage but at 9-6 they were honing in on victory. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sanil Shetty won the next two points, Tobias Hippler and Kilian Ort called “Time Out”. The Indian duo fought, they levelled at 10-all but that was the limit of success; a crucial stage of the contest had gone the way of Germany.

“I think luck was on our side this tournament and especially in the last game but when you’re the underdog you need this. It was unbelievably great to play with Hippler, he played amazing. The funny thing is we never played together before. He asked me two weeks before we came here and I said, “No, no, we have no chance anyway,” and now we still cannot believe it that we are the winners of this tournament!” Kilian Ort

Increasingly confident, as in the previous two games, Tobias Hippler and Kilian Ort went ahead 4-1; Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sanil Shetty elected for “Time Out”. The Germans extended the lead to 8-4, the heart had gone out of the Indian challenge, at 10-6 the Tobias Hippler and Kilian Ort held four match points, the first was saved not the second.

In true Xu Xin and Zhang Jike chest bump style at the Qoros 2015 World Championships, Tobias Hippler and Kilian Ort celebrated; for both it was their first ever ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series final, moreover their first success.

Challenge Series 2018 Thailand Open Sathiyan Gnanasekaran Tobias Hippler Sanil Shetty Kilian Ort

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