by Ian Marshall, Editor
A complete contrast in styles, Marcos Freitas, left handed, shake-hands grip style, preferring to execute top spin strokes a step back from the table; conversely Zheng Peifeng, right handed, pen-hold grip style, fast, in the modern manner utilising an effective backhand top spin stroke, was the fare on offer.
It was Marcos Freitas who made the better start. In the opening game he went ahead 7-2, it was at that stage Zheng Peifeng found his feet, found his rhythm. He levelled at 8-all before at 10-9 Marcos Freitas, gaining success by executing his forehand wide to the Zheng Peifeng forehand, secured game point. The point was saved, before on his second game point Zheng Peifeng converted.
Once again, seeking every opportunity play a fast forehand attacking stroke early in the rally, Marcos Freitas, as in the previous game, went ahead 7-2; this time he did not relinquish the advantage. At 10-6 he held four game points, he succeeded at the first time of asking.
The key to success for Marcos Freitas was the ability to execute his forehand top spin early in a rally; it nullified the speed of Zheng Peifeng. In the third game from parity at 4-all, Marcos Freitas moved ahead 7-4, before at 10-6 holding four game points; Zheng Peifeng saved two but he could not make it a third.
Seemingly, the forehand of Zheng Peifeng was not flowing as in the opening game; in the break at the end of the third game, he requested a medical “Time Out”, tape being attached to his right shoulder plus the traditional magic spray.
“I’m very sorry about the medical Time-Out. I actually felt some pain in my muscles already in the semi-final yesterday. I’m really sorry about that.” Zheng Peifeng
Subtle changes service, at times holding his right side, Zheng Peifeng secured the fourth game. He established a 5-2 and never looked back; at 10-6 he held four game points, at the second attempt he succeeded.
Motivated by the success in the fifth game Zheng Peifeng went ahead 5-2, Marcos Freitas reduced to gap to one point at 7-6; Zheng Peifeng called “Time Out”. Serving he secured the next point, Marcos Freitas failing to make an effective service return before at 10-8 possessing two game points and succeeding at the first attempt.
Strong top spin play from both backhand and forehand, creating angles wide to the forehand of Marcos Freitas; Zheng Peifeng established a 4-2 lead in the sixth game. Marcos Freitas called “Time Out”.
Executing top spin strokes wide the opponent’s forehand was the ploy for both players; whoever could produce that tactic won the point. The more effective was Zheng Peifeng; at 10-6, he held four match points, he succeeded at the first attempt.
A landmark win for Zheng Peifeng, for Marcos Freitas, one step short of regaining the title won in 2014 in Olomouc; his only previous ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title. Overall it was his third such final, the second time the runner up; in 2011 he experienced the same fate in Rio de Janeiro.